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Cape Vincent, Canadian neighbors decide Interstate 81 billboard won’t ‘linger longer’

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CAPE VINCENT — The town and its neighbors across the St. Lawrence River, Wolfe Island and the city of Kingston in Ontario, will discontinue a billboard advertisement next summer near the Arsenal Street exit on the northbound side of Interstate 81 that urges travelers to “linger longer” in the region.

Stakeholders from the three communities made the decision at a November meeting in Kingston, electing to spend marketing funding on website advertising instead of the billboard, Town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey said. Launched in January 2012 by the three communities, the billboard cost Cape Vincent $2,000 a year — $1,200 from the town and $800 from the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce. Wolfe Island also pitched in $2,000 a year, while Kingston contributed $4,000 for the display on Exit 46, leading to the most scenic route for travelers en route to Cape Vincent and Ontario.

The billboard features a cross-country skier and ice skater during the winter and is changed over the summer to spotlight a bicyclist and ferry boat. It references www.lingerlonger.ca, Kingston’s tourism website that promotes the three communities.

Originally “we thought a billboard coming north on I-81 from Syracuse would be a good way to draw tourism, but that’s very difficult to monitor,” Mr. Hirschey said. “We think we’re going to get better mileage with more money in promotion over the Internet. You can’t get a very strong message across on a billboard.”

The billboard will stay up until July 2014, Mr. Hirschey said, because the contract has been paid through the first two quarters of the year. At that time, the entities will start launching advertisements with the same “linger longer” message on websites and social media. Hits on websites will be monitored to determine how many people are being targeted.

“We’re focusing on bicycling and outdoor things like that, which is big on Wolfe Island and in Cape Vincent,” he said. “Moreover, our chamber office in the summer is right by the ferry , and when people come in, we have them fill out a form on where they’re going, what they’ve done and how they like it.”

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