|RALEIGH, N.C. — With 35,000 delegates, dignitaries and media representatives as well as the eyes of the world converging on Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention next week, the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development is seizing the opportunity to showcase the state's assets as a travel destination.
“Attention will be fixed on Charlotte and North Carolina,” said Lynn Minges, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Tourism, Marketing and Global Branding. “We want people to see beyond the headlines, appreciate the unique travel experiences the state offers, and showcase North Carolina as a special setting where visitors, residents and businesses thrive.”
The engagement begins before attendees arrive in Uptown Charlotte, where the main event will unfold. On VisitNC.com, the state’s official travel site, a Group Tour microsite directs delegations to points of interest on routes to and from Charlotte. Working with travel industry partners across the state, the Division has also devised itineraries for day trips, which could double as overnight stops before or after the convention. In addition, the Division is providing personalized, one-stop concierge service to group organizers.
Attendees flying into Charlotte Douglas International Airport will experience images of lighthouses, mountain vistas, history and culture in a narrated welcome video. The video, which starts with a warm welcome by Governor Bev Perdue, will also play in all nine of North Carolina’s official interstate Welcome Centers and in the Visitor Info Center in Uptown Charlotte. The message is posted on YouTube with a feature link on VisitNC.com/DNC.
Projections for the immediate economic impact from the convention run as high as $200 million. Minges also sees long-term value in the Division’s efforts to showcase the state by reaching out to the 15,000 media attendees as well as delegates and leaders.
"For more than a year we have been working to use this convention to inspire a wealth of human interest and lifestyle stories, and we’ve worked to put the North Carolina travel experience in front of these media outlets," Minges said. "We know that the news media will be largely focused on the action at the convention during the DNC, but our proactive media outreach is already broadening awareness and understanding of North Carolina as a place of uncommon scenic beauty and diverse appeal for leisure and group travel. ”
During the DNC media preview event in June, the Division distributed a customized tourism press kit with story starters, including a feature release on North Carolina's “Presidential Past” and other ideas for coverage before, during and after the convention. National media outreach has resulted in coverage by The Associated Press, The New York Times and other outlets.
The Division is also:
- Distributing 25,000 copies of the 2012 Official North Carolina Travel Guide with a custom cover featuring the Charlotte skyline to welcome convention delegates.
- Creating a temporary visitor center in partnership with Visit Charlotte. The center creates a physical presence for promoting both travel and business at Visit Charlotte's Uptown Visitor Center and the information desk at the Charlotte airport. The Division will have staff present at the Uptown location to assist travelers during the Convention.
- Promoting tourism in US Airways Magazine's September special section on North Carolina and the Charlotte region.
- Keeping tourism partners and small businesses engaged about vendor opportunities in conjunction with the DNC.