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Tourism impact of Trump 'Winter White House'

Posted at 12:11 AM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-26 06:22:26-04

So far, Palm Beach County tax payers have been on the hook for $1.5 million in overtime for deputies tasked with protecting the president when he comes to visit the ‘Winter White House.’

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told the Associated Press he’s confident he’ll get reimbursed.

While those high profile visits come with a price tag-and some inconvenience, they also come with at least one major benefit.International exposure for Palm Beach County for free.

As camera’s clicked, part of the Trump White House spent their first outing with international guests at none other than the Morikami Museum and Garden in Delray Beach.

Leading First Lady Melania Trump and the wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Akie Abe, through their Saturday morning tour was Bonnie White LeMay, the park’s administrator.

“We felt honored to be chosen as the South Florida historical site they chose to visit,” LeMay said.

LeMay says the hour long visit helped with clicks online. Their social media accounts garnered three times more engagement.  According to Google, worldwide searches for ‘Morikami’ peaked Saturday.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to enhance our local, national and international coverage,” LeMay says.

This is just an example at what a high profile visit can do for Palm Beach County. Glenn Jergensen is the Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Tourism Development Council.

“It’s a benefit to us, there’s no doubt that it’s a benefit to us,” Jergensen says.

With the president expected back this weekend, and additional visits likely, the coverage here will follow. 

Whether it’s the good weather for the president’s golf outing with Japanese prime minister, “just adds to the brand,” he says, or repeated mentions of our area in the international press, “just to have that name recognition,” more eyes will be on Palm Beach County.

“It’s a very good value for us and a great support of the brand that we’re pushing to get people to come here,” he says.

While it’s still too early to gage the dollar value of the international publicity, Jergensen says that area hotels have reported an uptick in room reservations during weekends Mr. Trump is in town.