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Tourism stakeholders hope online effort can give Meadowlands more visibility

North Jersey tourism leaders are rolling out a new online package builder, hoping to attract new visitors while encouraging coordination among the region’s attractions and businesses that support the industry.

The new feature by the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau launched Thursday with preset packages, but it will also allow users to create discounted plans a la carte from attractions, hotels, restaurants and other entities. MLCVB chief executive Jim Kirkos said the key now will be to recruit member businesses to participate in the system.

“This is the beginning of growing up to be a major destination,” Kirkos said. He added that the bureau was looking for a unique solution to help narrow the gap between the Meadowlands and more recognizable markets, like New York.

The feature has started with three preset options, including a Dec. 8 NCAA basketball doubleheader at the Izod Center coupled with four choices for area hotels.

“We went to some of our more active members and said, ‘Let’s put some packages together, and let’s build some confidence in the program,’ ” Kirkos said. “It always takes time, and we’re out there competing with lots of other big entities.”

The MLCVB also expects to incorporate upcoming big-ticket events like WrestleMania, along with planned American Dream Meadowlands complex, into the package builder.

Tourism leaders elsewhere in New Jersey are also trying a menu-style approach to help improve visitation. Late this summer, the nonprofit Atlantic City Alliance launched an online getaway planner at www.doatlanticcity.com, allowing users to build a trip step by step in segments like hotels, leisure, dining and travel.

“What we find is people need a little bit of help, because it’s such a big destination with so much going on,” said Jeff Guaracino, spokesman for the Atlantic City Alliance. He called it “a more interactive way than what we’re used to doing, with brochures,” adding that the options will continue to evolve as technology evolves.

The organization was not immediately able to provide usage data for the getaway planner, but Guaracino said the feature has seen positive results so far.


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