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February Issue 2005

New Craft & Tourism Marketing Blitz to Draw More Visitors to NC

With an eye to becoming the nation's most popular craft destination, North Carolina craft and tourism industries are kicking off their first-ever joint marketing effort to connect Southeastern travelers with craft events across North Carolina.
North Carolina is already one of the nation's top three craft destinations, with more than 6,100 craft artisans generating some $538 million in revenue each year. And the Tar Heel state is one of the Top 10 states for cultural and heritage tourism, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIAA) and Smithsonian magazine.

Building on that position, the new year-long craft-tourism marketing effort will promote North Carolina as a cultural tourism destination, and is conducted by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and the NC Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (NCACVB), with underwriting from the NC Arts Council.

Cultural tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, up 13 percent between 1996 and 2002, according to the TIAA. Cultural travelers spend more money and more time than other travelers, and are eager for authentic experiences at the places they visit. On average, they schedule five cultural activities per trip.

The new partnership is part of the 2004-05 Celebration of North Carolina Craft, as proclaimed by North Carolina's Governor Michael F. Easley. The Celebration showcases North Carolina's craft artists and products in new ways, including featuring craft on the newest state highway map. The Celebration of North Carolina Craft is sponsored by the NC Craft Coalition, comprising 19 craft organizations from the mountains to the coast working together to promote North Carolina as a cultural tourism destination. The NC Arts Council supports the Craft Coalition.

The new partnership is also designed to strengthen connections between local tourism agencies and local arts councils and area craft guilds. Special focus will be put on building local economies, especially in rural areas. Activities planned for 2005 include:

· Advertising promoting North Carolina craft in high-profile newspapers and magazines in the Southeast

· Online and newsletter communications with travelers, including the 300,000 members of AAA Carolinas and 350 AAA offices in the Southeast and Midwest

· Public service announcements produced by Time Warner Cable to air on North Carolina cable channels

· Local arts and tourism organizations working together to create craft travel tourism packages and itineraries

· A spring 2005 media event for travel writers in New York, highlighting craft

· Linking craft and tourism Web sites, including links to (www.DiscoverCraftNC.org), which directs visitors to craft-based organizations (including museums, galleries, schools and art centers). 

"This is a win-win partnership," said Kelly Miller, President of NCAVB and the head of Asheville's Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "People who are making vacation and getaway travel plans want to know about craft galleries, studios, exhibits, festivals and other craft events in North Carolina. Combining our efforts will let us provide potential tourists with the kind of travel information they want, and will increase travel and tourism activity acrossNorth Carolina."
The NCACVB comprises North Carolina's 36 destination marketing organizations, non-profits that are dedicated to promoting travel, tourism and conventions in North Carolina. Their combined budget exceeds $35 million, and is largely focused on attracting vacationers and other leisure travelers to North Carolina.
"North Carolina craft is an important cornerstone of our state's travel and tourism industry, so this partnership will build our craft community, our tourism industry and our state's economy," said Mary B. Regan, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council.

For further info contact Rachel Perry at the NC Craft Coalition at 828/275-3133, e-mail at (rachelperry@charter.net) or Vince Chelena at the NC Assn. of Convention & Visitors Bureaus at 704/333-8445, e-mail (vince@themanagementoffice.com).

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