Washington tourism director looks to boost city’s image for visitors

Published 6:40 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

By Staff
Managing Editor
Washington Tourism Development Director Lynn Lewis lives in Bath.
But before you berate her for not residing in the town she promotes, know that she was born and raised in North Carolina’s oldest city and, well, most people would figure that’s a good enough reason to stay there.
Lewis, 35, said she never appreciated the beauty of the area as she was growing up, but now cherishes “the opportunity to be its biggest cheerleader.” She has been in her position for the past 5 1/2 years and is now at the forefront of radical changes in the tourism industry.
Lewis, who is employed by the city of Washington, but works under the direction and supervision of the Washington Tourism Development Authority, is the only full-time employee at the Washington Visitor Center, though three part-time employees help her out.
She is married and has one son.
The Daily News recently asked Lewis about her duties and the future of tourism in Washington. Here’s what she said:
1.) What is your goal as tourism development director? Do you believe you’re fulfilling that goal?
2.) How has the economic recession affected your ability (through the city of Washington and the Washington Tourism Development Authority) to lure visitors to Washington?
3.) Have you pursued alternative tourism ideas to offset the area’s economic challenges? Has the current situation altered the WTDA vision or prompted you to emphasize certain facets of Washington that you hadn’t before?
4.) What can Washington do to attract visitors now and into the future? How will traditional methods of promoting tourism change as society becomes more and more technologically sophisticated?
5.) Are there aspects of Washington’s downtown core that currently detract from its tourist potential (such as conspicuously vacant buildings on Main Street)? What can the city and WTDA do to relieve the blight from a tourist perspective?
6.) Do you look to other areas in North Carolina or nationally as models for successfully promoting tourism? Do you believe Washington is a model of success, itself?
7.) Many tourist-oriented towns are caught between two factions: those who want city money spent to promote tourism, and those who want it kept for basic city services. Have you experienced that in Washington, and how do you defend your position?
8.) Your job seems to require a vast amount of networking with a variety of local and state agencies, officials, promotional groups, etc. Are there specific entities that will be particularly important as Washington promotes tourism in the future?