For years, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing’s Tourism Industry Sales expert Joni Allen has traveled up to Wisconsin to visit a Mecca for pilots the world over – Oshkosh.
“It is the largest air show in the world,” said Allen. “Planes line up, one after another to land. You’ve never seen anything like it.”
Known as EAA AirVenture, event officials say more than 600,000 people attended the event this year, roughly a 2 percent increase over last year. Nearly 3,000 show planes attended, including home-built aircraft, war birds, light sport, seaplanes, aerobatic aircraft and more. While Canadians were the top other country represented, Australians and South Africans were a close second.
“And a good portion of attendees will come to SUN ‘n FUN as well,” said Allen. “So this is all about trying to capture as much business for Polk County as possible.”
For the past 15 years, PCTSM has joined SUN ‘n FUN at a booth with the primary purpose of recruiting both vendors and pilots to SUN ‘n FUN.
“While the folks from SUN ‘n FUN know a lot about Polk County, they don’t have the depth of knowledge that we have,” she said. “This way, neither one of us have walkaways.”
At Oshkosh, Allen spends half of her day in the booth while the other half of her day is spent recruiting other vendors.
“Our goal is to get them to SUN ‘n FUN as well,” she said. “And this way we can tell them about new hotels or places to eat. Many don’t realize we have just as much to offer here as Tampa does, without the drive.”