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Originally published: 2013-01-18 11:29:09
Last modified: 2013-01-18 11:32:26

Inaugural Avery County Tourism Summit February 26

Matthew Hundley / (matthew.hundley@averyjournal.com)

Avery County surpassed all other counties in Western North Carolina when it came to tourism spending increases in 2011, with a boost of 9.55 percent over the previous year. Avery County Tourism Summit will bring local business owners together with experts in tourism and economics so that business owners can get a better idea of what contributed to the increase, and how their businesses can benefit best from what will hopefully become a trend of increasing tourism spending in Avery County.
The summit will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Best Western Mountain Lodge in Banner Elk. Admission is free for members of Avery County Chamber of Commerce. For non-members, the price will be $25 per person, though joining the chamber at any point before the summit will still qualify any business owner for free admission.
“The whole point of this is to let the county know how and why we received the 9.5 percent bump that we received in tourism spending in 2011,” Avery County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Freeman said. “The division of tourism is going to be sending dynamic speakers, Witt Tuttell and Andre Nabors. They are going to be sharing to make sure you are aware of how tourism affects your business and the community.”
Also contributing his expertise will be University of Tennessee economist Steve Morse, who will help break down the statistics that show how the increase impacted the community.
According to Freeman, the summit will allow attendees to identify specific steps and answer specific questions that will ensure that their businesses benefit as much as possible from Avery County’s tourism industry.
“Who received that 9.5 percent bump? Where did it end up? What can you do to have your business get some of that? What might your business be lacking in the 2013 era? For example, many businesses in Avery County do not have active websites or keep up with social media,” Freeman said, noting the value of marketing especially in a struggling economy, when consumers are shopping around for the best place to spend their money. “Unless you are cross-marketing, you are missing somebody.”
In addition to marketing, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more strategies for tapping into the area’s tourism spending, and how that spending affects Avery County as a whole.
“We want everybody in the community to be involved. This is not just a chamber event,” Freeman said. “Whether you are a member or non-member, we want you there.
For more information on the inaugural Avery County Tourism Summit or to make a reservation, call Avery County Chamber of Commerce at (828) 898-5605, or visit Avery County Chamber of Commerce’s office at 4501 Tynecastle Highway at the intersection of Highways 105 and 184.