CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 30, 1998 - The Charlotte Convention Visitors Bureau announced today a new campaign to promote the importance of travel and tourism on the local economy. The goal of the campaign is twofold: first, to increase local image and awareness of travel and tourism as an economic development force in our local and regional communities; second, to increase awareness of the role of the CCVB and its members in promoting travel and tourism in Mecklenburg County to national and international markets.
Beginning next week, billboards, print ads, and direct mail pieces will go out featuring a dramatic change in the city's skyline. Throughout May, you might see the Eiffel Tower next door to NationsBank or the Statue of Liberty raising her torch high above Charlotte. Of course, that could be the pyramids of Egypt or the Coliseum in Rome next to Ericsson Stadium. The idea behind the new campaign was conceptualized six months ago during a meeting of the CCVB Image and Awareness Committee, chaired by Watt Burris, general manager of Paramount's Carowinds, and Sheila Neisler, owner of A Basket O' Carolina.
The campaign is built around the concept that travel is as important to Charlotte's economy as it is in cities such as Paris, New York, Rome and Egypt, typically thought of as tourism destinations. Say the word tourism and most Charlotteans would immediately think of these destinations. Actually, the mental trip they should take is shorter. Just like these exciting cities, Charlotte benefits daily from its business and leisure travelers. Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in our state and city, John Tingle, district sales manager for US Airways, one the largest employers in Mecklenburg County and CCVB Chairman-elect said. In 1997, travel and tourism generated over $10.1 billion in revenue in North Carolina and the industry in Mecklenburg County contributes a big piece of that pie. Charlotte is the number one travel destination in North Carolina with over $2.2 billion in revenue generated from travel and tourism in 1996.
"That money goes back into the community to fund community services and projects such as roads, education facilities, libraries, hospitals and other tax-funded government services," Tingle said. "Over 40,000 jobs in our community are directly related to travel and tourism. Travel and tourism holds down local personal taxes. Without the revenue from visitors, Mecklenburg County residents would pay $112 more in state taxes and $63 more in local taxes annually." The majority of visitors to Charlotte-Mecklenburg County are here on business (49%), group meetings and conventions (27%) and leisure (24%).
"We want this campaign to educate and bring attention to the growth and development of Charlotte's travel and tourism industry," said Melvin Tennant, CCVB President and CEO. "We also want to take this opportunity to thank the growing number of people in our community that provide service to visitors in Charlotte -- whether it be a cab driver, concierge, waiter, audio visual company, retail associate ... the list goes on. They create an impression of our city to the visitor. That impression is very important because it develops our image throughout the world."
Elberson Senger Shuler, a Charlotte marketing and communications agency, donated their services to the CCVB to create the campaign. Charlie Elberson, president, also serves on CCVB's Image and Awareness Committee. "This campaign creatively takes what we all know -- that New York and Paris are indeed premier travel destinations and reminds us that Charlotte equally depends on the travel and tourism industry," said Elberson. "The dramatic image of another city's icon smack in the middle of uptown brings this message home, is persuasive, and unforgettable."
The campaign is being launched in connection with the upcoming National Tourism Week May 3-9. National Tourism Week is the industry's chance to emphasize that travel and tourism is America's largest services export industry, America's third largest retail sales industry, and one of America's largest employers. Travel and tourism is a $473 billion industry, employing a total of 14.8 million Americans, and generating over $121 billion in payroll.
The CCVB extended a special thanks to Elberson Senger Shuler, Adams Outdoor Advertising as well as local print publications for the in-kind services and public service exposure they are providing for the campaign. Elberson Senger Shuler is a full-service marketing agency with a staff that includes talents from such high profile firms as Young and Rubicam, Chiat Day and J.W. Thompson. The agency staffers have an in-depth understanding of the travel and tourism industry, having completed marketing campaigns for the North Carolina Zoo, Biltmore Estate, City of Asheville, the St. Louis Convention Visitors Bureau, North Carolina Travel and Tourism, and AAA Vacations. Clients for the 11-person agency include investment firm Interstate Johnson, dyestuff manufacturer DyStar, and property management company Childress Klein Properties. CCVB is a non-profit marketing organization that contributes to the economic development of Mecklenburg County by promoting the county as a site for meetings, conventions, sports, special events and as a tourism destination.