DOBSON — The Tourism Partnership of Surry County on Monday set the launch of a new “Very Surry” visitor’s guide for May.
The partnership continues to work directly with a graphic designer Jennifer Scott, who designed a cover for the visitor’s guide which featured an autumn photograph of the knob of Pilot Mountain in the foreground with Hanging Rock and Sauratown Mountain in the background.
Several members remarked that the guide is improved from last year, with a cleaner overall appearance.
The cover selection was appropriate for the area, as Jomeoke was the original name of the Pilot Mountain, which meant “great guide” or “pilot” in the native language of the Saura, who were the original Native American settlers of the region. History will continue with Pilot Mountain used as the main image on the booklet that will serve as a modern-day guide for Surry County.
Each town in Surry County was given a section in the visitor’s guide that will include information about the town as well as a map of each area. The guide will feature the addition of a wedding page, retirement page, and a new itinerary.
Roberts said that the partnership makes no money off of the guide; advertising revenues go toward printing and graphic design.
Bob Meinecke, of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, began selling advertising for the visitor’s guide a little more than a week ago, according to Jessica I. Roberts, director of Tourism and Marketing for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center. Roberts said advertising sales have gone well so far.
The partnership also discussed the possibility that businesses offering accommodations located outside of the Surry County area may be interested in voluntarily submitting occupancy taxes to the group. An example of this was a county that may not have a tourism development board but may benefit from participating in the partnership in order to lure visitors who are interested in the region.
The recent decline in occupancy numbers was also discussed, but members agreed that the winter months are typically the hardest for the area, in terms of tourism and visitation. Shelton said he believes recent winter weather in the North and Midwest may have brought down the numbers since people who normally travel to Florida or somewhere in the South had to postpone or cancel trips. In addition, Shelton mentioned that increasing taxes and gas prices may have been a factor, but traffic is increasing and he is hopeful that numbers are beginning to rise.
Even though occupancy rates were down, Betty Ann Collins, president of the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, said that visitor numbers at the Mount Airy Visitor’s Center were up during the first two months of the year.
Media attention for Surry County
Robertson held up the recent issue of Our State magazine that included a 4-page article about Roberton’s White Sulphur Springs. According to Roberts, Our State has included articles about the region in multiple issues.
Robertson said that Our State magazine is one of the only magazines that had an increase in subscriptions and sales, and it was also mentioned that the magazine is read by people outside of North Carolina, so the inclusion in the recent issues is an excellent promotional tool for Surry County.
“This magazine is helping to change the perspective of Surry County and it is a positive change for us,” said Robertson.
Jessica Roberts said that the area has also received attention from the UNC-TV series “North Carolina Weekend” which airs reruns of the show on Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays each week. The weekly Merry-Go-Round concert and radio broadcast held at the Earle Theater in downtown Mount Airy each Saturday morning was featured on an episode two weeks ago. In recent weeks, reruns of the show included segments featuring the Rockford Historic Site and Rockford General Store as well as Snappy Lunch.
Roberts passed around copies of locally-related articles that appeared in a variety of publications. This included an article written by Joe Tennis for Blue Ridge Country about “driving trails” in the area, an article about golf opportunities in the region in Cyber Golf, and an article about visiting the area in Bank News Today.
Most of the recent articles were written by people who were part of last fall’s media tour, which will take place again this year.
The board also discussed possible participation in the Our State magazine’s “Travel NC” tourism app, which has more than 32,000 downloads. Members agreed that it would be a good opportunity for the board to explore, especially with the increasing number of visitor’s and locals who use their phone to access tourism information.
Before the meeting concluded, Roberts passed out nomination forms for the “Excellence in Travel and Tourism” awards, which are scheduled for March 27.
The board discussed possible dates for the next meeting, which will be held in April.