The impact of the travel and tourism industry on the economy of the 26 westernmost counties of North Carolina will be the subject of a daylong conference Friday, April 11, presented by the Western Carolina University College of Business.
The inaugural “Tourism Works for Western North Carolina” conference will be held at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching beginning at 8:30 a.m. and concluding by 4 p.m.
The conference is expected to attract elected and appointed government officials, representatives of tourism and economic development organizations and chambers of commerce, and owners and operators of private sector businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The tentative schedule includes sessions on tourism’s impact on local economies, strategies for telling tourism’s economic development stories, updates on state tourism marketing, perspectives from local and regional tourism organizations, building a championship tourism team, and community partnerships.
“Those in the tourism and hospitality industry realize that tourism is a significant economic development tool that generates jobs and additional tax revenues for all of the counties in Western North Carolina,” said Steve Morse, director of WCU’s Hospitality and Tourism Program. “Sometimes, local officials, businesses, community leaders and taxpayers don’t look at tourism the same way, because they don’t understand the tremendous impact tourism has on the local economy.”
In addition to Morse, presenters will include Will Tuttle, acting head and secretary of the N.C. Division of Tourism in the N.C. Department of Commerce; Angie Chandler, executive director of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area; John Whisenant, director of tourism for the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association; and representatives from Smoky Mountain Host, Blue Ridge Host and High Country Host.
Cost of conference attendance is $59 for those who register through March 15, and $99 thereafter. The event is sponsored by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and Duke Energy.
For information or to register, visit the website tourism.wcu.edu or contact the Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397 (toll-free at 800-928-4968).