The Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau last month earned international accreditation through a program developed by Washington, D.C.-based Destination Marketing Association International.
The program allows destination marketing organizations to prove themselves on the world stage by adhering to a global measure of excellence.
“… The Cabarrus County CVB has demonstrated a commitment to quality programs and services,” said DMAP board chair Shelly Green. “And earning accreditation tells the community, and potential visitors, that … their trust is well-placed and their business is in good hands.”
DMAP ( www.destinationmarketing.org) is an independent international accreditation body that helps define quality and performance issues in destination marketing. Accreditation standards range from governance, finance and management to human resources, technology, visitor services, sales, brand management and destination development.
“We are very pleased to be recognized … for providing … services in accordance with international standards and benchmarks … ,” said Donna Carpenter, CVB president and chief executive officer.
One of the CVB’s major projects is its annual Destination Guide, which is due out in late April or early May. The magazine features all things Cabarrus County and is designed to be an all-inclusive resource for visitors.
The guide emphasizes locally owned establishments but also provides information about historical landmarks, dozens of restaurants and other attractions, such as Rocky River Vineyard or Doug Foley’s Drag Racing Experience. The guide also promotes the area’s 28 hotels, several boutiques for shoppers, day trip ideas and, of course, auto racing.
Tourism brought $312 million into the county’s economy in 2010, according to the CVB’s recent figures. That was a 6.6percent increase from 2009. That money saved the average household $365 in county taxes, according to the CVB.
The CVB is funded by the 6 percent occupancy tax paid by visitors who spend the night in Cabarrus hotels. The CVB represents and support the interests of the local tourism industry and is governed by the Cabarrus County Tourism Authority.
In 2003, the Cabarrus CVB’s budget was roughly $500,000, with only a handful of limited-service hotels in operation. In 2006, the budget increased to $1 million (before Embassy Suites opened in 2007). It grew to almost $2 million in 2008 (before Great Wolf Lodge opened in 2009). This year, the CVB’s budget is $4.2 million.
Tourism also helps create jobs. Because of the tourism industry, hotel occupancy rates grew even during the 2009 downturn of the economy, CVB officials said. And demand for total hotel rooms increased 8.4 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.
Other than general leisure visitors, the CVB markets the county to social, military, religious, educational and fraternal groups, as well as sports groups, conventions and corporate groups.
The Cabarrus CVB most recently has been involved with the promotion of Cabarrus Christmas/Speedway Christmas, the creation of the 2020 Vision Plan and N.C. Half Marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
For the 2012 Democratic National Convention last summer, representatives from nine states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia were clustered at various hotels near Bruton Smith Boulevard at Exit 49 of Interstate 85 in Concord. Hundreds of delegates visited.
The CVB has already secured the Mustang Club of America’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2014. And its Tony Lucca concert in May 2012 boosted its presence throughout social media.
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, who serves on the Cabarrus County Tourism Authority, said the accreditation is an indication of how the CVB strives for excellence.
“Over the past several years, tourism has become a very important part of our economy,” said Padgett. “This did not happen on its own. With the focus of the CVB, we have been able to host conventions and events of all sizes here in Concord that previously have gone elsewhere. We are on the map now and can compete on the same field as locations across the United States.”
Terry Crawford, past chairman of the CVB board and general manager of Embassy Suites Charlotte/Concord Golf Resort & Spa, said the CVB prides itself on carrying the banner for marketing the county as a visitor’s destination. Without the CVB, the area wouldn’t have a central, unified voice to promote Cabarrus County as a destination.
“The bureau’s marketing efforts make it possible for all the county hotels to benefit and extend their reach nationwide, and regionally, where it is normally cost-prohibitive,” said Crawford. “The bureau works closely with our hotel to attract groups and conventions and is a true extension of our sales team.”
Jessica Fickenscher is the vice president of special projects for Speedway Motorsports Inc., Charlotte Motor Speedway’s parent company. She also serves on the CVB board.
“The Cabarrus visitors bureau has made it its mission to promote Concord and Cabarrus County as the place where racing lives,” said Fickenscher. “Donna and her staff have been strong partners in establishing this area as a race destination, not just during major event weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but throughout the year. They showcase all that this region has to offer, from Charlotte Motor Speedway’s three premier race facilities to team shops, driving experiences and so much more.”
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