Tourism Summit draws large crowd


First Posted: 8/27/2009

DOBSON More than 70 people gathered at the Tourism Summit in Dobson last night to learn about the new Very Surry brand and see the unveiling of the campaigns signature ad.
The summit was hosted by the Tourism Partnership of Surry County, the group responsible for the new campaign. The event began at 6 p.m. at the Hampton Inn in Dobson and was attended by local business owners and leaders.
Im thrilled with the turnout, said Valerie Oberle, chair of the Tourism Partnership of Surry. One thing I notice, everyones eyes were on the presentation … I felt a strong sense of buy-in.
The event opened with refreshments from Harvest Grill and wine provided by the partnership. Ed Shelton of Shelton Vineyards helped coordinate the refreshments. Oberle gave a presentation to the crowd shortly after 6 p.m. on the new campaign and ad.
Bob Meinecke, president of the Mount Airy Rotary Club and local businessman, was pleased with the Very Surry brand.
The campaign is everything they said it was going to be, he remarked.
Outstanding, simple, colorful that is a superior ad, he said of the ad.
Jill Reinhardt is the career and technical education and technical director for Surry County Schools. She was at the meeting and now wants to introduce the campaign to Surry County students learning about tourism and hospitality.
Im very excited about this. We need to introduce this to our new class and students. … Our students need to understand what is here at home, she said.
Oberle said she hopes people take away from the summits a renewed enthusiasm for tourism in Surry and additional energy.
And I hope people will look at ways in their own businesses to improve, she added.
Shelton spoke up at the end of the presentation to challenge the audience: Lets dont go from this meeting and say, Oh, what a wonderful job and forget about it. Lets do our part.
During her presentation, Oberle listed several statistics from a recent report released by Gov. Bev Perdue. Surry County was one of 60 counties in the state to see an increase in tourism last year. The county saw $87 million in direct economic impact from tourism. Still, the average tourist party to North Carolina spends $562 at their destination while Surry County visitors are only spending an average of $318.
Weve got a lot of room to grow, Oberle told the crowd.
She attributes the main figure difference to the fact that not as many visitors stay overnight in Surry. Meinecke agreed.
We dont have enough stay-over opportunities. … We can expand, he said.
The partnership contracted with MadCat Group and CoyneBeahmShouse for the marketing and creative branding. To create the brand, MadCat conducted interviews and surveys with local citizens and visitors to the county. The visitor surveys found that 92 percent would recommend the area to friends and 86 percent thought it was a great place for a family vacation. Still, the tourists showed little awareness of attractions not connected to Mayberry.
The new campaign will target two audiences: the creative class and active boomers. The new brand is Very Surry, and the logo adds the slogan Art and Soul of the Yadkin Valley. In a few weeks, the partnership will have the campaigns Web site set up: www.verysurry.com. This site will redirect to www.visitsurry.com.
The master signature ad will first appear in this Januarys Blue Ridge Parkway Guide. It will also be the cover for the countys upcoming guide for visitors. The ad features bright colors and digitized photography of Surry County scenes, which Oberle hopes will make it stand out.
You wont see anything like this, she said. Its very unique.
Another upcoming project of the partnership is a Hospitality Academy with Surry Community College. This pilot program will consist of a one-hour Gracious Hospitality workshop taking place at locations in Elkin, Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain in September.
The Tourism Partnership of Surry County was formed in May 2008. The partnerships objectives are to increase visitors to the county and their length of stay, increase the revenue per visitor and increase the economic impact to businesses.
Another Tourism Summit is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Pilot Center on East Main Street in downtown Pilot Mountain. Oberle said the group has received more than 35 RSVPs so far.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or at 719-1952.

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