Weekly e-newsletter for VisitNC partners
November 28, 2018
* North Carolina delegation at Travel South International Showcase
* The Oxford American features North Carolina in annual Southern Music Issue
* I-40 West N.C. Welcome Center closing for major construction project, relocating to 
Haywood County VC
Both the N.C. & S.C. delegations, plus Travel South team, wore the CAREolinas tees
North Carolina delegation attends Travel South International Showcase

The 7th annual Travel South International Showcase, in Nashville, Tenn., this week, set a record number of international tour operators interested in selling the southern U.S. More than 120 qualified International tour operators from more than 12 countries met with southern tourism offices, attractions and hotels during the event. Visit NC's Wit Tuttell, Heidi Walters and Amanda Baker, along with several partners from the Coast, Piedmont and Mountain regions, met with international tour operators and media to increase interest in international visitation to North Carolina.
This year the delegations from both North and South Carolina brought attention to the hurricane recovery efforts by wearing the CAREolinas t-shirts, exemplifying that the two states are "back open" and welcoming all visitors.
The annual tradeshow is dedicated to increasing international tourism to the southern United States. Partners included Asheville Outlets, Asheville Hotel Group, Biltmore, Explore Asheville, Cabarrus County CVB, Mustang Owners Museum, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Greater Raleigh CVB, The Mayton Inn, Outer Banks VB, Kitty Hawk Kites, Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks Kitty Hawk, High Country Host, Courtyard Marriott Boone, Visit NC Smokies, Cataloochee Ranch, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Billy Graham Library, Hampton Inn, Charlotte NC Tours, Roots Catering and Mosaix.  More than 863,000 overseas visitors came to North Carolina in 2017. International visitors spend more and stay longer than domestic visitors. For more information on the Visit North Carolina's international marketing program, contact Heidi Walters at (919) 447-7762.
The Oxford American features North Carolina in annual Southern Music Issue

The Oxford American magazine's 20th annual Southern Music Issue celebrates the musical legacy of North Carolina. Tryon-born Nina Simone graces the cover and is celebrated as an icon of American music in the 160-page issue, along with many North Carolina musical artists.
For the "Heralds of North Carolina" advertorial, N.C. Art Council's Wayne Martin wrote "Come Hear North Carolina for Yourself." Visit NC's Suzanne Brown contributed "Where the Stars Shine." The section also contains a map featuring North Carolina music trivia.
In addition, the issue includes a CD of recordings from North Carolinians from 1924 to 2018. The compilation highlights legends such as Simone, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, James Taylor and Elizabeth Cotten. Detailed liner notes and essays on the songs were written by notable musicians and writers.
The North Carolina-spotlighted issue was made possible by the support of the N.C. Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources, N.C. Arts Council, Visit North Carolina, Arts Greensboro and N.C. Humanities Council.
Retire NC at AARP annual conference
Retire NC was among the exhibitors at the AARP Livable Communities Annual Conference in Charlotte, Nov. 12-14.  Visit NC's Andre Nabors represented and promoted the Certified Retirement Communities Program (Retire NC), which saw positive traffic. The annual gathering was for anyone who's committed to making their state, county, city, town or neighborhood a great place to live for people of all ages. More than 650 elected officials, planning professionals, local leaders and community advocates from throughout the nation came to learn from livability experts, connect with peers who are driving community change, and visit innovative projects and programs in and around the city. AARP's Network of Age-Friendly Communities Program helps participating communities become great places by adopting such features as walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.
I-40 West during a previous National Travel & Tourism Week
I-40 West N.C. Welcome Center closing for major construction project, relocating to Haywood County VC

The I-40 West N.C. Welcome Center will close starting Monday, Dec. 3. N.C. Dept. of Transportation plans a major construction project for the site, which includes both the building and grounds; projected reopening is July 31. The staff at the I-40 West will relocate to the Haywood County Visitors Center in Maggie Valley in the meantime, to continue servicing visitors to the state. The Welcome Center's normal hours - 8 am-5 pm, daily - remain the same; as with all Welcome Centers, it will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. To contact the I-40 West NC Welcome Center, call (828) 627-6206, as the phone number remains the same, or contact Manager Mary Ann Teague at mteague@nccommerce.com.
NC DOT plans to upgrade several aspects of the Welcome Center building, as necessary, such as roofing, replacing windows, doors and other interior improvements, to maintain a safe and inviting environment for everyone. It will be enhancing the landscape, adding attractive décor such as waterfalls at the entrance of the buildings. Additionally, it will improve the parking options by working on easier accessibility to the Welcome Center and enhancing the sidewalks. NCDOT will also conduct major work inside the Rest Area building, including new restrooms.
NCRLA offering association health plan

The N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association has begun offering what it says is the first "association health plan" in North Carolina. The industry group's new plan, known as a benefit trust, is available to hotels, restaurants, country clubs, bars and other small hospitality businesses with between two and 99 full-time employees. The trade group said in a statement issued Tuesday that the trust allows those businesses to band together to buy group health coverage typically only available to large employers. "This benefit trust takes meaningful steps to help our members across the state address rising health care costs," NCRLA's Lynn Minges said in a statement. "We're empowering small hospitality groups and operators to provide their employees with excellent health care at a reasonable cost."
Greensboro to host 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

U.S. Figure Skating has selected Greensboro as the host city for the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The championship dates are Jan. 20-26, 2020 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. This will be the third time that Greensboro has been chosen to host the U.S. Championships in the last decade; previous dates: 2011 and 2015. Champions will be crowned in ladies, men's, pairs and ice dance at the championship and junior levels of the U.S. Figure Skating competitive structure. "Greensboro did an outstanding job in hosting our U.S. Championships in 2011 and 2015," U.S. Figure Skating's David Raith said. "Our skaters and our fans had high praise for the local organizing committee and how they worked to make our marquee event special. We look forward to returning to Greensboro."
Southwest adding San Jose, Austin flights to RDU

Southwest Airlines is slated to bring two new flights to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Starting June 9, Southwest will begin nonstop flights from San Jose International Airport (SJC) to RDU. Southwest also announced plans to connect Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) with RDU.
President and Mrs. Trump welcoming the tree to the White House (photo courtesy the White House)

Christmas tree from Avery County graces the White House

The Christmas holiday season officially kicked off this week in Washington, D.C., when President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump received the White House Christmas tree from Mountain Top Fraser Fir farm in Newland. This year, Mountain Top Fraser Fir Farm won a national tree contest hosted by the National Christmas Tree Association, whose members have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966. The association hosts a national tree contest every year, and growers, industry experts and consumers vote to choose the Real Christmas Tree grower who will provide the official White House Christmas Tree. Growers must first win their local competitions in order to qualify for the national contest
According to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association, North Carolina has approximately 1,300 growers producing Fraser Fir Christmas trees on an estimated 40,000 acres. N.C.'s Christmas tree industry is ranked second in the nation in number of trees harvested and cash receipts, with the state producing more than 20% of real Christmas trees in the U.S. The N.C. Fraser fir Christmas tree is the most popular Christmas tree in North America and is shipped into every state in the U.S. as well as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Japan and other points all over the world.
Raleigh's A Place at the Table in the national spotlight
A Place at the Table, in Raleigh, was featured in a segment on NBC's "Today" last week. The story, "North Carolina café allows customers to pay what they can," part of the program's Food for Thought, explained that the restaurant's menu has suggestions for prices, allowing guests to pay that price, pay more, pay what they can afford, or even volunteer for the meal. Owner Maggie Kane explained how she came to open the restaurant and then guests extolled how much they appreciate the food and the successful concept.

'North Carolina makes Hollywood feel very welcome'

North Carolina's film and television industry was spotlighted by The (Philadelphia) Inquirer in its Travel section this past weekend. In "'North Carolina makes Hollywood feel very welcome," the writer explained, "My goal is to locate as many television- and movie-filming locations in Wilmington as I can, a mission I will soon discover can be overwhelming if not impossible. After all, the city has been hosting Hollywood since 1983, when Firestarter (starring Drew Barrymore), was filmed there. Not only has the city changed over the decades, but we're talking about hundreds of television and movie production companies using Wilmington and the surrounding area as backdrops." The article wasn't limited to the Wilmington area, as the writer also visited Jackson County (last year's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), writing. "I headed first to the site of The Fugitive's train-and-bus crash with Nick Breedlove, executive director of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority. Although the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has been used in several movies - including My Fellow AmericansForces of Nature, and Digging to China - it's most notable for The Fugitive." 
'How to Celebrate a Merry Smoky Mountain Christmas' includes 3 in N.C.

For its "How to Celebrate a Merry Smoky Mountain Christmas," TravelChannel.com included Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's Polar Express and Biltmore for the North Carolina selections.
Of Bryson City, the online article said, in part, "Bryson City holds its own with a 75-foot-tall Christmas tree in the town square, no shortage of holiday lights, and most famously, the Polar Express train. The Appalachian toymaker is also unique to the area, and kids can watch him make wooden toys just across the train. Plus, kids can write letters to Santa at the Visitor Center while indulging in cookies and hot chocolate." The verbiage also mentioned other area highlights, including Dillsboro.
Of Biltmore in Asheville, the article noted, "You can bet that the largest home in the U.S. (let's be honest, Biltmore is really a castle) spares no expense when it comes to holiday decor. This means more than 55 Christmas trees - all outdone by the 35-foot-tree in the Banquet Hall and a 55-foot-tree on the front lawn - along with about 8,000 feet of garland, 30,000 lights and almost 500 wreaths... The self-guided Candlelight Christmas Evening tour helps to conjure an earlier era (albeit with electric candles) while performers entertain with Christmas carols."
December offers 'Christmas in Carolina'
The December issue of Our State magazine offers "Christmas in Carolina." "Restaurant" features Ashten's Restaurant & Pub in Southern Pines; "Gathering Place" highlights The Reeves in Elkin; and "Farm Tour" visits Justice Farms in Jacksonville. The December issue is available now.

Energy efficient holiday lighting
As the air starts to cool and the days get shorter, many businesses and towns have started putting up seasonal decorations. Although decorative lights are a wonderful way of sharing the holiday spirit with guests and customers, the decorations can result in inefficient energy usage if improperly managed. One easy way to reduce the energy consumption of decorative lights is to make sure they are set on timers so they are only on when needed. Another option is to use lights with LED bulbs rather than incandescent. Although they may cost slightly more, LEDs are more energy efficient, durable and have a longer life. If buying new LED lights, check that the product has a warranty to protect your investment. Seasonal LED lights are now available at most local and online retailers. For more information on seasonal LED lights, visit Energy Star's decorative holiday lighting. For more information on sustainability in the tourism industry, contact NC GreenTravel Program Manager Tom Rhodes at (919) 707-8140.
Please note, due to on-air fund-raising on UNC-TV, North Carolina Weekend will air at 7:30 pm on Thursday.
For the week of Nov. 29 on North Carolina Weekend, tour Raleigh with Carolina Touring Company. Lift a glass at Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. Celebrate the holiday season at Enchanted Airlie in Wilmington and Denton Farm Park Holiday Train in Denton. And enjoy the East Carolina Wildlife Art Festival in Washington. (Check local listings; segments are subject to change.) North Carolina Weekend is underwritten by Visit North Carolina. In addition, UNC-TV has made recent editions of North Carolina Weekend available online.
In 2017, foodservice, the largest domestic traveler spending sector in North Carolina, reached $8.2 billion and accounted for more than one-third (34.3 percent) of the state total domestic travelers' expenditures, up 3.9 percent from 2016. For more North Carolina visitor spending information, visit the Economic Impact Studies or contact Visit NC's Marlise Taylor at (919) 447-7748.

Upcoming Industry Meetings & Events

Dec. 13 - AENC Annual Showcase, Raleigh
Jan. 16-17 - BRPA Winter Meeting, Wyethville, Va.
Jan. 24-25 - MPI Carolinas Chapter Meeting, Durham
Jan 24-Feb. 3 - Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah
Jan. 25-29 - ABA Marketplace, Louisville, Ky.
Jan. 29-31 - RCMA Emerge, Greensboro
March 31-April 2 - Visit NC 365 Conference, Wilmington
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