Tourism Day set for Wednesday at I-77 Welcome Center

By Jessica Johnson

May 6, 2014

National Travel and Tourism Week is held from May 3 through May 11, as a salute to travel and tourism in America and on May 7, the I-77 Surry County Welcome Center at Milepost 105 will celebrate Tourism Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All nine North Carolina Welcome Centers celebrate Tourism Day this week, as an opportunity for local attractions, accommodations, tourism groups, and more to set up a display and promote their attractions and offerings to travelers, as well as a “thank you” to visitors for traveling to North Carolina, according to I-77 North NC Welcome Center Manager Chris McKeaver.

The event is free and open to the public.

Tourism Day is a showcase of not only what Surry County has to offer, but also a chance for regional groups to come together for a day to showcase what they have to offer. Many of the booths will have free handouts and samples for those who attend.

Local groups and businesses in attendance include the Mount Airy Visitor Center, Mayberry Squad Car Tours, Pilot Mountain State Park, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Shelton Vineyards, Surry Arts Council, several local artists, and accommodation representatives. Also attending are representatives from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Town of Elkin, Winston-Salem Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Salisbury CVB, High Point CVB, Greensboro CVB, Alamance County CVB, and more.

“It is a really fun day. This event gives everyone a chance to get together and promote North Carolina as a travel destination,” McKeaver shared.

All NC Welcome Centers are managed and operated by the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development.

Nationally, 14.6 million American jobs are supported by the travel industry and the travel industry represents America’s sixth-largest employer, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. The economic output generated by domestic and international visitors reached $2 trillion in 2012, with direct spending reaching a total of $597 billion. Each household in the United States would pay $1,060 more taxes without tax revenue generated by travel and tourism.

Locally, Surry County is on the leading edge of the travel boom in the state. In 2012, visitors spent a record 19.4 billion in North Carolina, with an increase of 5.4 percent from 2011. Visitors to Surry County spent $107.06 million in 2012, an increase of 4 percent from 2011. At least 770 people in Surry County are directly employed by the travel industry, generating a total payroll of $14.92 million. Surry County is ranked 36th in terms of tourism spending since 2004.

For more information about Tourism Day at the I-77 North Welcome Center, call 336-320-2181. The Surry County Welcome Center is at Milepost 105 on I-77 South, at the Virginia State Line.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.