“That’s it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West, anyone?”

That was the tagline on top of Visit Ithaca's website today, when the tourism board was encouraging folks to skip Ithaca and head to the beach instead. (The site has since been updated.)

As winter continues to bear down on the Northeast, burying much of the area in mounds of snow, the Ithaca area tourism board decided to shoot for levity with a website homepage that shows a picture of a sunny beach and tells visitors to come back and see them in the spring.

Says the site:

"Due to this ridiculously stupid winter, Ithaca invites you to visit the Florida Keys this week. Please come back when things thaw out."
"On behalf of 100 million Northeasterners, we're saying that we're done with cold and snow," Bruce Stoff, director of the Ithaca Convention & Visitors Bureau, told the Ithaca Journal in regards to the message. "This is a way for us to stay engaged with our customers at a time when Upstate New York isn't exactly top of mind."

It's pretty unusual for the tourism board for one community to encourage folks to visit a different area than their own — but this unorthodox approach seems to be paying off.

As a former Ithaca College student, I can attest that winter in Ithaca, New York, is no place for the faint of heart. And it's unlikely that anyone would be looking to head there in the middle of this harsh winter. But this clever little pop-up just put Ithaca on the map for millions of visitors who might think about a visit when the weather warms up. The message has gained so much attention, in fact, that I actually had trouble loading the Visit Ithaca site this morning due to the huge increase in hits.

Ithaca is a gorgeous (or gorges, as the locals say) site for a visit, but I couldn't agree with this message more. For now, skip Ithaca and head to the beach. Then be sure to set your sites on this upstate New York town when the snow melts.

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