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“The Big Year” Birding Weekend
Travel Journalists Migrating to Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands for “The Big Year” Birding Weekend, Oct. 27 – 30, 2011

Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau Hosting Media Trip Themed
Around New Birding Movie Starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson

CHARLOTTE HARBOR & THE GULF ISLANDS, Fla. (October 26, 2011) – Coinciding with the birding movie “The Big Year,” based on the book by Mark Obmascik, the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau is hosting six Florida-based travel journalists during “The Big Year Birding Weekend” Oct. 27 – 30, 2011, to showcase the area’s birding, nature-based and urban amenities. With seven sections of the Great Florida Birding Trail within Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, the destination offers a “buffet of birds” for birders, a line from the movie, in which the three bird fanatics try to outdo each other in a quest for the most birds sighted in a year. VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official source for travel planning, awarded a Cultural Heritage and Nature Tourism Marketing Grant in the amount of $2,500 to the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau to use toward the trip.

“Birding is growing in popularity and with many accessible parks and protected areas, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a birder’s paradise,” said Lorah Steiner, Director of the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, “Showcasing our birding opportunities to journalists provides them with story angles to share their experiences with readers who will be inclined to visit. Editorial coverage is an effective and cost-efficient way to reach potential visitors.”

Participating journalists represent regional and national print and electronic publications and will stay at the Wyvern Hotel and Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside. During their three-night, four-day stay, they will engage in various activities throughout Charlotte County with an emphasis on natural adventures including:
• Buggy Tour at Babcock Wilderness Adventures
• Kayaking through the Woolverton Trail and Boating Excursion to White Pelican Island with Grande Tours
• Harbor Cruise with King Fisher Fleet
• Shorebird excursion at Palm Island Resort
• Tour of Peace River Wildlife Center
• Search for Florida Scrub-Jays at Tippecanoe Environmental Park

Additional activities include:
• Trip to the movie theater to see “The Big Year”, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson
• Tour of Fishermen’s Village
• View Margaret Albritton Gallery and Artists’ Market
• Walking tour with the Punta Gorda Mural Society
• Visit Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City Museum

The group of journalists will taste some of the flavors of Charlotte County with scheduled meals at:
• The Fishery Restaurant
• J.D.’s Bistro
• Lock ‘N Key
• Lulu’s
• Muscle Car City Diner
• Peace River Seafood

Many of these tourism partners have donated all or a portion of their services and amenities to supplement the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau’s budget for the media visit. Through hosting familiarization trips, called a “FAM,” journalists are acquainted with the area’s tourism amenities. The combined potential reach of these touring journalists is between 3 and 5 million readers.

Tourism is one of Charlotte County’s strongest revenue producers, providing an “imported” source of funds for the area economy. Tourism supports over 6,000 jobs, generates sales tax revenues of nearly $19 million and produces over $205 million in total expenditures. Nearly 300,000 visitors travel to Charlotte County annually.

What is birding?
Bird watching or birding is the recreational hobby of observing different species of wild birds, including their physical characteristics and behavior. It is a hobby that can be enjoyed by both novice and experienced birders on many levels...from just watching birds through the window to traveling to the other side of the world to see a rare species. Birding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and will help further a deep appreciation of nature.

Seasoned birdwatchers can add rare sightings such as red-cockaded woodpeckers or Bachman’s sparrows to their life lists. Newcomers to the pastime can get their wings, so to speak, during an Audubon Society guided tour or a visit to one of the area’s state parks. Visit for additional information.

About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers a pristine unspoiled beauty that has served as the backdrop for seven major feature films as well as countless memorable vacations. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named to SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” The city of Punta Gorda was named in one of “Top Ten Places to Retire Healthy” by U.S. News & World Report. Englewood was named as #2 of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by

For information about area events, activities and attractions, contact the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, 18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104, Port Charlotte, FL 33948; 941-743-1900, or call toll free at 1-800-652-6090 for a free Visitor’s Guide; or visit the Web site at

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Jennifer Huber
Tourism Public Relations Manager
Tel: (941) 743-1900
Charlotte Harbor Visitor
& Convention Bureau
18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
941-743-1900, FAX: 941-743-2245