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State tourism officials tour Mecklenburg County / June 11, 2014
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) came to South Hill last week for two days, as its six-member board attended their spring meeting. This is the first time in its 15 years of existence that VTC has met in Mecklenburg County.

“For a county that has worked hard to brand itself and promote tourism opportunities, this was significant,” said Mecklenburg County’s Tourism Coordinator Justin Kearns.

For two days — Wednesday, June 4 and Thursday, June 5 — the state government leaders and tourism professionals toured the county, stopping at Rosemont Winery, MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, and the Colonial Theater in South Hill, before listening to presentations from Sandra Tanner, who is Southside Virginia’s marketing specialist with VTC and also Kearns. The two shared insights to the recreational, scenic, historic and cultural offerings found throughout Mecklenburg County and Southside Virginia.

After addressing the members of the VTC, Mecklenburg County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Glenn Barbour noted, “They were very impressed with us, and I think they plan to return soon.”

Kearns, who was hired last year as Mecklenburg County’s Tourism Coordinator, spent his first year searching out unique places throughout the County while developing a marketing plan and promoting these sites and the area as a destination for tourists. Recently he convinced the people from Cabot Community Tour to spend two-days in the County, hosting two separate events, on their way north up the East Coast Greenway.

VTC was created in 1999 by the General Assembly to stimulate the economy through tourism, by promoting, advertising, and marketing the Commonwealth’s many tourist attractions.

Its 16 member Board of Directors includes the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and 12 members appointed by the Governor.

Among its goals, VTC seeks to increase the economic impact of the tourism industry and the film and video industry in Virginia by encouraging more tourists to visit the state, to stay longer and spend more money.

They also identify areas of improvement for the infrastructure (e.g. roads, rails, and facilities} that supports tourism, and educate elected officials and key opinion leaders on the economic importance of tourism while encouraging investment in the industry.

Their mission also calls for them to support, maintain and expand the Commonwealth’s domestic and international travel market and motion picture production, thereby generating increased visitor expenditures, tax revenues and employment.

According to the VTC website, “in order to reach Virginia’s tourism growth potential, more must be done to collectively and collaboratively promote regions, themes and attractions.”

That is one reason, Kearns said, it was important for VTC members to see Mecklenburg County first hand. After leaving here, they are better able to promote this region and its birding, boating, camping, cultural and historic attractions, fishing, heritage trails, outdoor activities and natural attractions as well as its wineries – there are three in the County, Rosemont in La Crosse, Three Sisters of Shiney Rock in Clarksville and American Way Country Wines in Chase City.

Kearn’s noted that VTC realizes that this area has a lot to offer tourists and it’s important for VTC to be aware of and support these sites to draw more visitors here and generate additional visitor spending. He said he looks forward to them returning to the area.

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