ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida is welcoming more tourists than ever before. According to Visit Florida, a record 33.2 million people visited the Sunshine State in the first quarter of 2018
Now, tourism leaders in St. Lucie County are going out of town,to try and lure more out-of-towners.
Wanda Hobbs and her family from Illinois have come back to Fort Pierce, but they notice something different this time.
“It's a lot wider. A lot more sand than broken shells," said Hobbs.
The beach at the Fort Pierce Inlet just underwent another renourishment.
“It used to be a really steep drop off but there’s not anymore, so it makes the beach access a lot easier," said beachgoer Dianne Hill.
Now, the county is marketing the natural beauty more than a thousand miles away. While the beach is a big lure for tourists, some baseball fans know St. Lucie County, specifically Port St. Lucie, as the spring training home of the New York Mets.
“Our budget doesn’t allow us to do the marketing we’d like to do in New York," said St. Lucie County Tourism and Marketing Director Charlotte Bireley.
But as part of the most recently signed agreement keeping the Mets on the Treasure Coast, the county gets to choose three games at New York’s Citi Field where it can set up a booth.
“We have fans come and stand in front of a green screen, then we superimpose them in front of a real scene in St. Lucie County, and we email them the photo," said Bireley.
The six different scenes showcase not just the beach, but fishing, and golfing. While it’s too soon to know if this project is leading to more heads in beds, the trend is up when it comes to Treasure Coast tourism.
“Through March we were up 12.7 percent in terms of bed tax revenues," said Bireley.
The county tourism office is kicking off another program next week called "Share Your St. Lucie." It's designed to get local residents to get their our of town friends and family to come and stay locally. A number of hotels are creating package deals for it.