After 35 years, the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau is trading in its name for something snappier.

As of Thursday, the tourism marketing organization for Maine’s biggest city and surrounding area will be known simply as “Visit Portland.”

Rebranding is a way to clarify the organization’s role for visitors, businesses and residents, said Lynn Tillotson, president and CEO. More than 200 convention and visitors’ bureaus across the country have ditched their cumbersome names for shorter labels in recent years, she added.

“It makes things a lot more clear to the visitor and the resident,” Tillotson said. “It kind of immediately puts in your mind what we do.”

The association has used the moniker Visit Portland on its website and publications for years, so the rebranding includes minimal design changes, such as a reworked logo.

Visit Portland is a call to action and an invitation to visitors, Tillotson said. It’s also the clearest way to describe what the organization does, help brand the Portland area and differentiate the city from Portland, Oregon, which uses the tagline “Travel Portland.”

Visit Portland is a nonprofit funded primarily through dues from its members. The organization was founded in 1982 and is holding its 35th annual meeting Thursday. It represents 12 towns and cities around Portland, as well as the Casco Bay islands. The organization serves as a point of contact for tour operators, convention planners and visitors, and it works on long-term tourism strategy and promoting the area.

Letting local businesses and residents know an organization is dedicated to marketing the area is as important as branding the area for visitors, Tillotson said. The bureau’s role is little understood. Many people assume an organization that attracts tourism is a wing of the chamber of commerce. Rebranding with a snappier, more descriptive name should lift some of that confusion, Tillotson said.

“A lot of mainstream people who aren’t in the hospitality industry don’t even know what the convention and visitors bureau is, they don’t know we exist,” Tillotson said.

In 2016, approximately 5.4 million visitors came to greater Portland, about 13 percent of Maine’s overall tourists, according to the bureau. Those visitors spent $682 million, generated $67 million in taxes and supported 11,500 jobs.

The number of local tourism marketing associations that have rebranded with simpler names has grown in recent years, especially in response to the internet and social media, Tillotson said. The Portland organization talked to a number of similar groups that changed their names and all said it helped bring in visitors and improved local marketing.

“We have been talking about this for some time,” Tillotson said. “We didn’t want to make it randomly, we wanted to look at the trends out there, have they been successful, what is driving them?

“We have had a lot of conversations around this, it just makes sense.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6329 or at:

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