Don't doubt the power of the travel industry to generate jobs and revenues. The North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development recently received a 2011 Mercury Award from the US Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors (NCSTD) for its cooperative marketing efforts. This marks the Division's 22nd Mercury Award recognition since 1985.
More than 3.6 million visitors spent a record $17 billion in North Carolina in 2010. Factoring in all of the Division's partnerships, including alliances with in-state media associations and the North Carolina Travel Guide, the Division's cooperative marketing programs grew by 60 percent in 2010, effectively tripling its advertising budget to $7 million.
In 2010, the Division's marketing programs resulted in 3.25 million consumer inquiries and sent partners more than a million visits directly to their individual websites.
The national award recognizes the North Carolina tourism office for its excellence in cooperative marketing. In the face of difficult budget constraints and increasing competition for fewer travelers, the Division expanded its offerings of affordable marketing opportunities to help both the Division and its partners stimulate more interest, travel and visitor spending in North Carolina.
This concerted marketing effort not only minimized the negative impact of consumers wary of the economic uncertainty, but also reversed course with record visitor expenditures in 2010, the agency said.
“The judges referred to the campaign as one of the best co-op marketing campaigns they’d ever seen a state accomplish,” said Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism and Film and member of the awards committee.
The tourism industry continues to post economic growth despite current economic conditions - in August it was announced that record-level visitor expenditures directly generated 185,500 jobs and more than $4 billion in payroll income within North Carolina in 2010.
“Partnerships are more important than ever as we are tasked with doing more with fewer resources,” said Lynn Minges, assistant secretary for tourism, marketing, and global branding for the North Carolina Department of Commerce. “Leveraging our marketing resources has allowed us to accomplish more versus our key competitors.”
NCSTD is an industry council of the U.S. Travel Association.