Dana Ste. Claire, director of the city’s Heritage Department and of the 450th Commemoration told Historic City News that he has a response to suggestions of dethroning our economic engine.
First came the county tourism consultant’s suggestion that, “we do not believe it is advisable to develop a positioning that is based solely upon history. (It) should only serve as a backdrop for a brand experience.”
Then came the state Chamber of Commerce president’s recent assertion that, “the state’s economy is evolving from one centered on tourism, construction and agriculture to one driven by science and engineering.”
“Diversifying the county’s offerings is important, but marketing away from the strength of the market is economically dangerous,” Ste. Claire says. “St. Augustine, with its rich history-based visitor programs and venues, will never be a backdrop for a countywide brand experience.”
For Ste. Claire, St. Augustine is the principal brand as a major heritage tourism destination. “It may not be the more easily understood conventional industry, but it’s the largest here, attracting more than four million visitors annually, and measured in billions of dollars.”
“The rest of the state may see a shift to new industry, but St. Augustine will always be a major tourism destination – there is only one Nation’s Oldest City,” he said.
Ste. Claire told us, “We should make every effort to strengthen St. Augustine’s unique brand, rather than shift the model to something that has no real application locally.”
“St. Augustine is clearly the exception and not the rule”, Ste. Claire said.