The Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority (MATDA) will issue a $2,000 check for the National Travel Ball Association State Championship, which will be held in Mount Airy from May 9 through May 11, with more than 100 teams in town for the tournament.
“It's going to be a huge weekend for our hotels, with many already booked up, Director of Tourism and Marketing for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center Jessica Icenhour Roberts announced at the board meeting Friday afternoon.
The board previously voted to issue a $2,000 incentive (up to $6,000 total for the year) for any sports tournaments that bring in 40 or more teams to the area, with one check already issued earlier this year.
Tourism season picking up
Visitor Center hours will be extended to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning May 1. In addition, the visitor center is open seven days per week, including Saturday until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. “We will extend hours if we need to do so, especially for special events like festivals and the cruise-ins,” Roberts told the board.
Staff member from the visitor center are taking a day trip on April 22 to Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Va. Roberts invited board members to join visitor center staff on the tour of Primland. “I am going to start implementing these tours each quarter so we are all better trained with what is going on in the area…We are also planning days in Elkin and Yadkin County in the coming months.”
Upcoming events include the Tourism Summit scheduled for April 24 at the Shelton Badgett Viticulture and Enology Center at Surry Community College from 6 to 8 p.m. as well as Tourism Day in Raleigh on May 27 and 28, where Roberts will represent the area for a legislative reception and meeting with representatives and tourism officials.
Visitor traffic is increasing, probably due to the warmer weather, Roberts shared. The visitor center greeted and tracked 2,795 visitors so far in April. The top five states supplying visitors to the area were North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. Staff also greeted 38 people from Canada, and other international visitors from France, Africa, Finland, Philippines, Australia, England, India, and Germany.
New position, promotions, and publicity
The MATDA board is moving forward on hiring a full-time assistant marketing director for the Mount Airy Visitor Center, Roberts announced, and would soon conduct interviews for the position. She added that the visitor center needs two part-time employees.
Board members received an update on the “Our State Magazine” mobile travel app, which has 61,000 downloads so far. Board President Lenise Lynch asked if Roberts could request information about how many people are visiting the “Art and Soul of the Yadkin Valley” section, which has 15 partners.
Other publicity for the area included an article about Budbreak Wine Festival in “Carolina Festivals” magazine, several features in the upcoming issue of “Our State Magazine,” and publicity from several media outlets for the new JOLO Winery and Vineyards and Endposts Restaurant, located in Pilot Mountain.
Surry County will be included in a 102.9 FM radio promotion with 92 thirty-second commercials, 120 thirty-second I-heart radio endorsement commercials; inclusion in the 102.9 “The Lake” e-blast on April 24, sent to 17,790 listeners; 60,000 mobile banner ads on the I-Heart Radio app; 360 recorded promos; inclusion in the 102.9 community calender; and inclusion on the radio station's contest page promoting wine festival ticket giveaways and a “Girlfriends Getaway” grand prize.
Various travel writers will visit the area soon, with a golf travel writer from a newspaper near Cleveland, Ohio in town on April 25 and 26 and a travel writer from Orlando, Fla., visiting Mount Airy on May 9 and 10. Roberts said the travel writer is interested in Mayberry and the Yadkin Valley Wine Region.
In new business, Lynch inquired if any moves had been made to work on the contract between the visitor center and the chamber and said she would follow up on it and see what should could figure out for the next meeting, which will be held on May 16 at 8 a.m.
“We are all busy, busy busy,” Lynch said. “Everything sounds good. Keep up the great work, everyone!”
Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.