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Visitors bureau launches Web site

June 08, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Visitors Bureau Web site got a decidedly low-tech launch Thursday with officials pulling on ropes to unveil a billboard touting the site.

"Make the Leap! explorefranklincountypa.com" declares the billboard across U.S. 30 from Norlo Park in Guilford Township, a grinning skydiver looking east toward potential travelers and tourists coming this way from the tourist mecca of Gettysburg, Pa.

"So what is there to do in Franklin County?" is the question the Web site is designed to answer, said Tim Latsbaugh, whose company, 2nd Floor Media, designed and built the site. Upon going online, visitors can select from the categories of "Do," "Dine" and "Stay" to find things to do, places to eat and somewhere to spend the night, he told a group of about 70 people in the community center at Norlo Park.

Included in that group were members of the Pennsylvania Past Players, re-enactors who depict the lives of Pennsylvania citizens in the 19th century. Lenwood Sloan, the state's director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, also attended the launch.

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"It's going to be very easy to grow this site to promote tourism in Franklin County," Latsbaugh said. Local photographers provided photos of local attractions, rather than stock images, he said, and they can be changed seasonally to reflect the different attractions through the course of the year.

Podcasts and videos will be added later and businesses have a place in which to put their profiles, images and links, Latsbaugh said.

"What kind of an explorer are you?" Visitors Bureau Director Janet Pollard asked those attending the launch. By clicking on "Do," site visitors then can look under categories ranging from Fairs & Festivals and Hiking & Outdoors, to Arts & Culture and Farms, Markets & Orchards.

Web visitors can further break that down by areas such as Greencastle & Countryside and Waynesboro & Countryside.

"We have a lot more here than even we know about," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said about the research that went into cataloging the historical, cultural, recreational and other attractions in the county. The site represents "a new era in travel and tourism" in the county, he said.

Once part of the Capital Region Visitors Bureau, Franklin County decided to create its own visitors bureau, funded through a hotel tax projected to generate $450,000 this year, according to county budget figures.

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