PHENIX CITY, Ala. — Just ahead of the busiest time of the year for rafting and other water recreation, a local company is trying to create bigger splash this year. Whitewater Express is directing more marketing and promotion west of the Chattahoochee. Besides a boost in advertisement, Whitewater and both Phenix City and Columbus are working to install several changes on the river.
In previous years, Whitewater Express marketed to both sides of the river separately: Whitewater Columbus and Whitewater Phenix City. This year, they’re rolling out a new marketing campaign that unites the two locations. It’s called Escape the Ordinary. With a united front, Whitewater now has their sights set on drawing more regional visitors this year.
“What you’re going to see are more billboards in other cities,” Whitewater President Dan Gilbert said. “More billboards in Alabama and Atlanta, other cities. We’re reaching out to Tallahassee.”
Anyone passing through Huntsville, Birmingham, Dothan, or Montgomery will probably see a Whitewater Express billboard. Gilbert says the more efficient marketing campaign is designed to draw more families to the river.
“The family comes to town, and not only are they rafting, they go to dinner,” Gilbert said. “They buy gas. They go buy gifts. They spend a lot of money while they’re in town and that’s the boost.”
Gilbert says the area gets plenty of national recognition as tourist destinations. Phenix City council resolved to spend $21,000 in taxpayer money toward marketing efforts for Whitewater in Alabama. Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe says the tax dollars will drive growth on both sides of the river.
“That river has transmuted both communities,” Lowe said. “And what I mean by that is both of these communities have value. But what the river has done is create more value for these communities.”
Mayor Lowe mentioned that there were four activities that unite the Chattahoochee Valley.
“One we know is sports,” Mayor Lowe said. “The other one is music. The other one is art. And the other one is whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River. It brings people together.”