A marketing campaign targeting out-of-state families could be contributing to an increased number of attendees for some of Dublin's key tourism destinations.
This past year, Dublin's Irish Festival attracted its second-highest attendance at 102,000 people, said Scott Dring, Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.
The bureau's Irish Fairy Door Trail also experienced a 500-percent increase in participation, Dring said.
He said data also indicate there will be record-level attendance at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium this summer.
Those three venues were all subjects of the bureau's regional marketing campaign, targeting Pittsburgh; Detroit; Indianapolis; Lexington, Kentucky and Charleston/Huntington, West Virginia.
"The bureau does not take credit for those successes, but the campaign surely helped attract regional visitors," Dring said.
An influx of regional visitors generates more than just city bed-tax revenue, Dring said.
Out-of-town visitors spend money at shops and restaurants, helping maintain the approximately 2,500 travel and tourism jobs in the city.
"They're dumping money into the local economy," Dring said.
This is the third year for the bureau's regional campaign, which was begun to help the city's now 17 hotels attract visitors, Dring said.
When people visit Dublin they tend to drive rather than fly, Dring said, so the bureau looked at target markets within a three-hour drive.
Dring estimated a program such as the one the bureau uses -- employing a combination of digital and print advertising -- would typically cost as much as $140,000.
The bureau has a total budget of $1.1 million and receives 35 percent of Dublin's bed tax annually from the city, he said.
This year, advertising will include billboards for the first time, in addition to decals and print ads in pedestrian shelters, Dring said. The ads are placed in popular family travel sites in the targeted cities, such as the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, the Indianapolis Zoo and Heinz Field, which is the stadium of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh football teams.
The bureau's efforts help fuel key events and organizations in the city.
Last year, 2.9 million visitors came to Dublin, resulting in more than $800,000 in hotel bed tax, said Sue Burness, the city of Dublin's director of communications.
Those funds help support the Dublin Irish Festival, the Dublin Arts Council and the Independence Day celebra-tion.