Southeast Tourism Society
ATLANTA, Ga. (March 24, 2008)-Approximately 350 travel and tourism professionals will meet in Asheville, N.C., March 31-April 1 for educational programs that include a presentation from Southern food celebrity Paula Deen and a "voluntourism" project on the French Broad River.
The event is the spring meeting of the Southeast Tourism Society, an Atlanta-based association that promotes travel in 12 states. Its members represent state tourism departments, chambers of commerce, conventions and visitors bureaus, tourism attractions, hotels, travel media and related businesses.
"All association meetings that come to North Carolina are important, but this one is especially so. It's a great opportunity for North Carolina's tourism professionals to shine and simultaneously learn from their peers," said Lynn Minges, executive director of the North Carolina Division of Travel and Tourism.
The "voluntourism" project is a river cleanup with RiverLink, an organization that works to improve the entire French Broad River watershed. The project is an option for early arrivals and is expected to draw several dozen participants.
"STS is developing a tradition of volunteering in our meeting locations. Last year, we worked on the Creole Nature Trail in Southwest Louisiana and at the Beauvoir historic site in Biloxi, Miss.," said STS Chairman Leon Downey, who also is executive director of the tourism department in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
The Southeast States Chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association (SETTRA) will meet concurrently with STS, and its members will present a number of research papers.
"Between STS and SETTRA, some of the sharpest minds in the travel industry will be in Asheville for four days," said Kelly Miller, executive director of the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In addition to Deen, the STS programs include
+ Mary Bomar, director of the National Park Service, discussing the intertwining of tourism and national parks;
+ Roger Brooks, CEO of Destination Development in Seattle, Wash., discussing his "25 immutable rules of successful tourism";
+ Chris Cavanaugh, founder of the Magellan Strategy Group in Asheville, discussing consumer trends and the travel industry;
+ Marla Tambellini, assistant vice president of marketing for the Asheville CVB, leading a panel about travel journalism; and
+ Duane Vinson, vice president of Smith Travel Research in Hendersonville, Tenn., discussing the lodging industry in the U.S.
The meeting is at the Grove Park Inn. A graduation ceremony for people who have completed the STS Marketing College curriculum and earned certification as Travel Marketing Professionals is scheduled on April 1.
About Southeast Tourism Society (STS)
Founded in 1983, Southeast Tourism Society (www. southeasttourism.org) is dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism in its member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Its headquarters are in Atlanta. The membership includes state travel offices, attractions, hotels, motels, resorts, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, travel media and other travel-related organizations.