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The Pokemon Go! phenomenon is global, and if you think it’s just a passing fad, think again.

Niantic’s game app has already been installed more than 75 million times since its early July release.

Since this is a location-based game, tourism businesses throughout Collier County are jumping on board to attract Pokemon trainers, otherwise known as game players, with special events and meet-ups.

Locations putting out the welcome mat for Pokemon players include the Naples Zoo, all five of the Collier County museums, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and others.

Most of the national media coverage to date has deemed Pokemon Go! a great thing for tourism, particularly family travel. Many of the Poke Stops, where players collect Poke balls and other things needed to either catch or care for Pokemon, are historical markers and prominent location signs.

Players of all ages are getting out and about, walking around and actually reading historical markers, like the one at Naples Pier.

Other Poke Stops at the pier include several of the commemorative benches placed along the pier.

Not only are people getting lots of exercise, they’re interacting with newly-discovered locations and also, each other.

Increase visitors

Meet-ups increase visitors, who get walking and talking with fellow game players.

I realized early on that as a tourism promoter, I needed to fully understand the game and how it can be played throughout the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades region.

I downloaded the app and headed out with my phone. I captured some of my first Pokemon characters at the Village on Venetian Bay shopping center.

Best was the cool conversation I had with a 12-year-old player about where I had found the Eevee character – hiding behind the service counter at Ben & Jerry’s – which was a total surprise to the manager on duty.

Attractions have started paying small fees to purchase “lures” to bring in more Pokemon characters to their area. Players flock to these locations in anticipation of capturing new and different characters. These lure parties, or meet-ups, continue to grow in popularity.

The zoo

Naples Zoo had its second major Pokemon Go! meet-up this past weekend and will likely schedule more.

The Collier County museums jumped on board with lure events scheduled every Saturday in August at various museum locations.

The next one takes place Aug. 6 at Marco Island Historical Museum.

Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort was the first hotel in the region to launch a guided Pokemon Go! tour for registered guests.

Every Saturday afternoon, the resort’s Pokemon expert, Caroline Waterman, leads a tour for players to the on-site Poke Stops, helps players find and catch Pokemon characters, and treats participants to a PokeBall, the resort’s Pokemon-themed virgin strawberry banana daiquiri.

Once you get out there, you might be surprised who and what you’ll encounter as you go out to Catch ‘Em All!

JoNell Modys is the public relations and communications manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for Collier County, where more than 1.8 million visitors annually provide an economic impact of nearly $2 billion. Check the destination website, paradisecoast.com, for more ideas on what to see and do in Florida’s Paradise Coast.

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