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On a typical day in winter, VisitIthaca.com receives roughly 1,500 hits, but today the website's page views have soared to nearly 80,000. All because it told its visitors to "not come to Ithaca."
Bruce Stoff, director of Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said that because of the heavy traffic, which crashed the website, the pop-up was taken down Tuesday afternoon.
Since Sunday afternoon VisitIthaca.com displayed a pop-up saying, "That's it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West, anyone?" and encouraging people to fly away from the winter woes of Ithaca in upstate New York.
Stoff said that after being frustrated by constant snowstorms and bone-chilling temperatures, his team came up with the idea of encouraging people to visit the Florida Keys. "We broke down. We don't get a lot of winter business anyway, so we thought how could we make this fun."
Ithaca was experiencing temperatures of 15 degrees with snow showers as of Tuesday mid-day.
Andy Newman, director of media relations at Florida Keys & Key West Tourism, said he "scratched his head" when Stoff called him with the idea. "I said, 'Are out of your mind? Nobody does that in the tourism market,' " Newman told CNBC.
Florida Keys & Key West Tourism did not contribute a single penny to the promotions, Newman said, although he did promise to buy Stoff two margaritas if he came down to the Florida Keys, where the temperature was 77 degrees.
Stoff said that while the move has garnered a lot of social media attention, skiers seem unhappy about it.
Newman said that although what VisitIthaca.com did was unorthodox, it was a clever marketing trick. "It was extremely bold and creative, and I am certainly happy to be a part of it."