from the Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Area
Who: Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership
What: Canadian Visitors Come to WNC on Rural Tourism Mission
When: April 1 – 6, 2013
Where: Counties in Western North Carolina
A group of travel professionals from Northeastern Canada will be visiting several counties in Western North Carolina from April 1 to 6 to learn more about tourism initiatives, especially in rural areas, that might serve as models of best practices and generate new ideas for promoting tourism in their region of Canada.
Sponsored by the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, in partnership with Tourism Atlantic – ACOA, the group will visit Clay, Graham, Swain, Jackson, Buncombe, Madison, Polk, and Henderson Counties during their trip.
Itineraries for the visit were developed by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Receptive Services. They are designed to take the visitors to rural areas in WNC that have developed tourism product based on heritage and the natural environment. The tour will include stops in:
• Hayesville, a community which through volunteer efforts has developed the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit and museum that display the Cherokee heritage of this small rural community. Also the group will visit another asset that has been developed by the community, the a popular mountain biking destination, Jack Rabbit Trail.
• Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, Robbinsville. This small rural community renovated an abandoned school building, turning it into a vital music, crafts and performing art center. http://www.stecoahvalleycenter.com/
• Bryson City and Nantahala Outdoor Center, both points of interest for outdoor enthusiasts and host sites to the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships.
• Dillsboro and Sylva, with redeveloped quaint small towns and the Jackson County Green Energy Park nearby. http://www.jcgep.org/about.html
• Asheville, not a rural community, but a revitalized town with a vibrant downtown and the emerging River Arts District, plus the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, Folk Art Center, and theWestern North Carolina Farmers Market.
• Marshall, home to a thriving traditional music culture and Arts Council that are strengthening the town’s rural economy.
• Tryon and Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), an example of a rural community that is using an agricultural asset for economic enhancement.
• Saluda, a town of only 570 full-time residents, with most of its buildings on Main Street on the National Register of Historic places is a favorite tourist destination.
• Hendersonville’s Burntshirt Vineyards, one of many up and coming vineyards that are building tourism in rural areas.
The purpose of the Canadian program is to expose private sector tourism operators and representatives of sustainable tourism communities to successful tourism operators/entrepreneurs and outstanding products in other regions and create an environment of ‘Competitiveness Through Best Practices.’ It is intended that this exposure will stimulate new product ideas, improved practices in customer service, innovative operational techniques, sound planning models and partnership opportunities for the Canadian Atlantic tourism sector.