Solid strategy

Published 5:16 am Saturday, February 9, 2008

By Staff
Lynn Lewis spent most of the past week taking part in a six-day international event in Virginia Beach, Va., for travel-industry executives.
She was there to promote Washington as the Heart of the Inner Banks and other Beaufort County towns as members of the Inner Banks community in an effort to increase tourism, not only in Washington but throughout northeastern North Carolina.
The event was part of North Carolina’s Northeast Commission’s Hub &Spokes marketing initiative. Lewis and Russ Haddad, director of the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, were selected to represent the region at the 2008 American Bus Association Marketplace, the six-day event held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. About 3,300 travel-industry executives were expected to attend the event.
Knowing Lewis’ excellent track record when it comes to tourism, it’s a safe bet she gave those executives what they were looking for — newly packaged itineraries perfectly suited to tour-bus visitors with ideas for visiting local towns while staying in the hubs of the larger municipalities of Washington, Roanoke Rapids and Elizabeth City, not to mention the Outer Banks and Manteo. Lewis and Haddad were given seven minutes with each executive to sell tourism events of the region to that executive. They also encourage those executives to bring busloads of tourists to northeastern North Carolina.
It’s also a safe bet that Lewis used her best selling techniques when she was talking about what Washington and Beaufort County have to offer to tourists.
The Hub &Spokes initiative bodes well for Washington, Beaufort County and the Inner Banks.
It’s more than exciting. It’s extremely promising.
Washington’s decision to market itself at the “Heart of the Inner Banks” and its historical, cultural and natural resources makes it extremely attractive as a hub for tourists to use as a base from which to make excursions to nearby attractions and events, Rogerson said last year.
His statement still rings true today.
The Hub &Spokes strategy should allow tour groups more flexibility. Group members staying at one of the four hubs for several days will be able to make several excursions to area attractions during each day at the hub, returning each night to the hub during that stay. That approach will benefit the hubs and the places the groups visit.
With gas prices continuing to rise, more tourists are expected to take shorter trips or use mass-transportation systems such as tour buses. For many people, tour buses are an affordable way to vacation. Getting those tour buses and their passengers to make overnight trips or multi-day visits to Washington and the rest of the Inner Banks makes sense from an economic-development point of view.
The Hub &Spokes initiative allows a small city or town to reap the benefits brought by groups of 50 or so travelers spending a day in that city or town.
And lots of small cities and towns reaping such benefits means the region reaps similar benefits.
That’s good for northeastern North Carolina, especially the Inner Banks.