The Southeast Tourism Society Honors Local Area Governments for their Leadership Role in Virginia's Blue Ridge

JACKSONVILLE, FL (November 6, 2013) - On Tuesday evening, November 5th, Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers, City of Salem Mayor Randy Foley and Roanoke County Vice-Chair Charlotte Moore accepted the 2013 Southeast Tourism Society's (STS) Governmental Tourism Leadership Shining Example Award in Jacksonville, FL.  This award honors an elected official (city, county, state or federal) whose support or influence greatly enhances the tourism industry.  This is the first time a joint jurisdictional nomination has been recognized.  (List of past recipients included below.)

All three governments banded together in support of the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (RVCVB) by signing off on a regional tourism agreement investing three percentage points of the local lodging tax to the RVCVB, adding over one million dollars dedicated to marketing Virginia's Blue Ridge.

"This is a big accomplishment for regional cooperation and the beginning of a new era for tourism," said Landon Howard, President of the RVCVB.  "This is all about building a regional destination for Virginia's Blue Ridge, creating more jobs and increasing local revenue.  We are already beginning to see the benefits of this investment with tourism numbers trending upward with more hotel rooms sold and more lodging tax revenues collected than at any point in our history."

Due to the increased marketing support from these local governments, the RVCVB will be able to expand its marketing reach to potential visitors through a campaign designed to attract target markets in Virginia and North Carolina to Virginia's Blue Ridge. 

"The support of tourism from our local governments is a great investment for Virginia Blue Ridge," said Lee Wilhelm, Chair of the RVCVB. "Visitors don't see city or county lines.  The CVB's job is to sell the area as a whole and can now do it much more effectively.  We appreciate the confidence that our elected officials have placed in our organization."

In 2012, tourism in Virginia's Blue Ridge region generated $730 million in revenue, providing $52 million in state and local taxes and supporting more than 7,200 jobs.

The Shining Example Awards have been a tradition since 1985 and were started by the STS, an organization dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism to its 12 member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 

For further information, contact:
Catherine Fox
RVCVB Director of Public Relations & Tourism
(540) 342-6025 (ext. 114) or (540) 494-0514 (cell)


During its 30 year history, the Southeast Tourism Society has awarded the Governmental Tourism Leadership Shining Example Award.  The list below represents past award recipients:

1985     Rep. Bill Boner, TN & Rep. Tom Kilgore, GA
1986     Gov. Lamar Alexander, TN
1987     Rep. Taylor Harper, AL
1988     Gov. Guy Hunt, AL
1989     Cong. Tom Bevill, AL
1990     Rep. Bubba McDonald, GA
1991     Fred Brinkman, SC
1992     Mayor Michael Dow, Mobile, AL
1993     Sen. Ernest Hollings, SC
1994     Lt. Gov. Melinda Schwegmann, LA
1995     First Lady Susan Allen, VA
1996     Gov. Zell Miller, GA
1997     Dr. David Bronner, AL Retirement Systems
1998     Rep. Charles Capps, MS
1999     Rep. Stratton Bone, TN
2000     Ken Murphy, Tunica, MS
2001     Rep. Martin Nesbitt, NC
2002     Gov. Paul Patton, KY
2003     Rep. Mark Foley, FL
2004     Rep. Henry Brown, SC
2005     Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, FL
2006     Gov. Haley Barbour, MS
2007     Rep. Tracy Edge, SC
2008     Jack Myers, Polk Co. Commissioner
2009     Mayor John Rhodes, Myrtle Beach
2010     Earlene Teaster, Pigeon Forge
2011     Hon. Robert McDonnell, Governor, VA
2012     Sen. Arthur Orr, AL
2013     City of Roanoke, City of Salem and Roanoke County, VA