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Tourism is topic at Westmoreland Supervisors’ meeting

Northern Neck Tourism Commission Chairman Paul Reber met this Monday with the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors to provide an update on efforts to bring tourists to Virginia’s Northern Neck.
Reber was accompanied by Northern Neck Planning District Director Jerry Davis, whose office works in partnership with the region’s Tourism Commission to facilitate and promote tourism.
The centerpiece of the May 10 presentation was the recently created colorful marketing brochure that has been made available at tourist destinations throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. A working skipjack, George Washington and Stratford Hall are depicted on the brochure’s cover.
Reber explained the commission’s effort to bring tourist trade to the region “by capitalizing on our natural, historical, cultural and recreational resources” and by “increasing lodging and dining opportunities in a way that enhances the local community and visitor experiences.”
A promotional website, northernneck.org, has been revamped and Reber reported that site visits increased as much as 11 percent from January to February 2010. The most visited pages on the site were home, lodging, events, map and real estate.

The regional organization has a working partnership with the Virginia Tourism Corporation and tourism assessment planning will be conducted later this month. State Tourism Corporation staff members are prepared to meet with area businesses to provide information about education, marketing and other development services it makes available.
State tourism experts offer assistance with implementation of best practices for reaching travelers and media for the purpose of increasing visitation and tourism related spending on the Northern Neck.
Another of the regional commission’s working partners is the National Parks Service. Work continues to obtain the National Heritage Area designation for the entire Northern Neck.
Reber talked about recent progress associated with the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. A bike trail suitable for antique cars runs through four lower Northern Neck jurisdiction and is reflected on the paper map and the downloadable map that can be obtained at northernneck.org.
New on Monday was the Northern Neck’s introduction of agritourism.
“There are a lot of agricurious people who want to know where their food comes from,” Reber told the members of the Westmoreland County Board. “We held a workshop [on March 5] to make it happen.” Additional workshop offerings will follow, he explained.
The Westmoreland Supervisors understood well the rationale for delivering financial support to efforts associated with promoting a local and regional tourist industry. Reber advised that as many as 77 contributors donated $10,650 for use as seed money during 2010.
Supervisor Lynn Brownley commended the effort. His own District 3 is home to Stratford Hall Plantation, where Reber is employed as Executive Director. Stratford Hall has long been a major tourist destination.
“I’ve worked with Mr. Davis and Dr. Reber on the heritage [area designation] effort,” Brownley told board colleagues and members of the May 10 public.
“The Planning District Office has provided a positive foundation to draw from and I can immediately see that the new brochure has good eye appeal and a lot of excellent data.
“As far as I’m concerned, any initiative such as this one to promote tourism has to be a nobrainer in any rural jurisdiction.”
Supervisor Russ Culver suggested that grant funds be pursued to support the purchase of one or more tourist buses that would operate on the Northern Neck. The District 2 representative explained that he and his wife have enjoyed history tours on buses and trolleys in other parts of the United States.
Lisa Hall, who accompanied Davis and Reber, addressed the board, noting that the annual Down on the Farm Tour is scheduled for May 29 in partnership with the Ride Share program. Participants can park their vehicles in Ride Share lots and board a bus to take advantage of that tourism event.
“Mrs. Hall, I really appreciate all of you coming here today, because we have a wonderful opportunity,” said Board Chairman Woody Hynson when the presentation ended. “The Northern Neck is blessed with so much history.”

By Betsy Ficklin
The Journal

 

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