Broward considers name change to Fort Lauderdale
Even Broward's major tourism agency is named the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agency plays up the perennially warm climate, with a live beach cam on their website (sunny.org) and a recent media blitz in New York City in which bikini-clad dancers took to an ice skating rink.
Palm Beach and Dade counties gave up land in 1915 to form Broward County. It was slated to be called Everglades County but that changed after a popular early-20th century governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, died suddenly while running for the U.S. Senate. Broward championed draining the Everglades, which opened up much of today's urban Broward County for development. His great grandson is Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
"What we've seen in the U.S. and globally is this move toward picking the most recognizable destination within a region and picking that to market to people," said Lori Pennington-Gray, director of the Tourism Crisis Management Institute at the University of Florida.
"Tourists, especially internationally, they're not familiar with geography and county names don't resonate," she said.
Some say tourists may well visit all three counties that comprise South Florida, staying in a trendy Art Deco hotel on Miami's South Beach or catching a polo match with the well-heeled in Palm Beach. They argue tourism officials should market the region as a whole.
"If we're actually going to talk about the name of the county, why don't we talk about how we work regionally as well," said Gregory Stuart, executive director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Martha Bennett, a lifelong Fort Lauderdale resident and owner of the hip, waterfront Blue Moon Fish Co. restaurant, thinks a name change would boost local businesses.
"People are coming to Fort Lauderdale. They're not booking a flight to Broward," said Bennett. "There's no Broward Beach."
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