The Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau is changing its name and marketing logo in an effort to bring more visitors to Altoona and Blair County.
The membership-based organization unveiled its new name, Explore Altoona, which will be used in promotional materials and its logo which includes "Blair County, Pennsylvania."
"It's a very clear message," Explore Altoona Executive Director Mark Ickes said Wednesday. "It tells the audience where we are, and it's very specific, very direct."
Mirror photo by Kay Stephens
Mark Ickes, executive director of Explore Altoona, speaks with Debra Bowman, executive director of tourism, film and marketing for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, on Wednesday after the unveiling of the Explore Altoona logo.
Seventeen years have passed since August 1995 when the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Blair County became the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau. At that time, the change was offered in response to the state's push for regional tourism promotional efforts.
Rob Egan, who chaired the committee that studied the name change, typically referred to as rebranding, said the former name
"wasn't doing an effective job of telling people what they would experience in Altoona and Blair County."
"In this day and age where people are doing Google searches, the name Allegheny Mountains can take you anywhere," Egan said after the organization's annual award luncheon, where the logo was unveiled.
Debra Bowman, executive director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development's office of Tourism, Film and Marketing praised Ickes for his leadership on the effort.
"Nobody said it better than Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz:' There's no place like home, and that's what we're selling here," Bowman said.
Designer Paul Firemen of Firemen Creations, Pittsburgh, said the new name, logo and related materials are designed to draw visitors to Altoona and Blair County where they will find attractions and engage in activities "worth the effort of an overnight stay."
"I think they're spot-on with this direction," Julie Donovan, marketing and public relations director for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, Ligonier, said Wednesday after lunch. The bureau she works for represents members in Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.
"This will help their staff do a better job, help them sell their message better, with the ultimate goal of increasing visitation which affects and benefits the whole region," Donovan said.
Altoona Mayor William Schirf added his praise, not only because the logo names Altoona but also Blair County.
"We're in this together," Schirf said. "As destinations, we need to work together."
Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr., a former Altoona city councilman, agreed.
"Altoona is the focal point of the county ... but only a starting point for the visitors," Beam said. "I'm excited."
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.