By Scott Underwood
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ALEXANDRIA — The Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau will push ahead in 2014 with digital and print initiatives to spread its message — "The Fun Starts Here!".
That was the key note delivered Thursday afternoon by visitors bureau Executive Director Tom Bannon during the organization's annual meeting, at Gaither Family Resources.
"We're not making this stuff up," Bannon told about 100 visitors bureau supporters gathered for the luncheon. "We're just telling the stories of all the great things to do in Madison County."
The audience was shown previews of promotional videos, just before the videos were posted on the bureau's website. The three-minute pieces, highlighting local attractions, are themed for relaxation, adventure, family fun, and arts and culture. A fifth video is based on the theme "Discover Madison County."
The videos are the latest additions to a website, new in 2013, that attracted almost 1.8 million page views in its first year. Bannon said he anticipates the site will top 2 million page views this year.
The visitors bureau is relying on print, as well. In May, the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau Magazine will debut. A collaboration of the bureau and The Herald Bulletin, the magazine will include articles about local attractions, listings of things to do, travel advice and other features.
Two additional issues are planned for July and October. The magazine will be distributed at the visitors center off Scatterfield Road just south of Interstate 69, and at local hotels, other local sites, and visitors centers across the state.
George Vinson, outgoing president of the bureau board, noted that visitors spent about $136 million in Madison County in 2012, ranking 16th of Indiana's 92 counties. Local attractions include Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, the Paramount Theatre, Gaither Family Resources and others.
"Two years ago, we recognized that we needed to change the way we were communicating the message of the visitors bureau at the speed of light," Vinson said, alluding to the new print and video initiatives. "That became our goal."
The visitors bureau is funded by the innkeepers tax in Madison County. The bureau received about $500,000 from the tax last year.
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Award winners Two awards were given Thursday at the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau annual meeting: -- Bureau board member Tammy Bowman received the Volunteer of the Year Award. -- Mike Kase, lead sales representative for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, received the President's Award for impact on local tourism. Website www.VisitAndersonMadisonCounty.com