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Currituck Tourism Department Receives Top Awards For Marketing Projects

Currituck County’s Department of Travel & Tourism has been recognized by the Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina (DMANC), receiving two first-place awards.

The Destination Marketing Achievement Awards honor and showcase innovative, best practices, creativity and outstanding efforts in tourism marketing.

Currituck County’s Tourism Department was awarded a Platinum Award (First Place) in the Best Destination Marketing Initiative category. The Department also received and a Platinum Award in the Best Visitor’s Guide category. The awards were presented in the “large budget” division, meaning that the Currituck bureau competed against other North Carolina destinations such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham.

Currituck’s Economic Boost Campaign won Best Destination Marketing Initiative. The promotion was conducted in response to concerns expressed by Currituck County accommodation providers that vacation rentals and hotel room bookings were down due to the poor economy. Tourism staff requested an additional $250,000 in advertising funds to directly market to potential visitors. The plan was presented and $300,000 in funds were approved in January 2009 by the Currituck Board of Commissioners, which also serves as the Tourism Development Authority.

The $300,000 was mostly used for online marketing such as e-blasts, travel directory listings, and an aggressive pay-per-click campaign. The Tourism Department also conducted a direct mail campaign and ran ads in several major newspapers in the area’s target market of the Mid-Atlantic region. Businesses were offered to participate in deeply discounted co-ops with the newspaper ads.

“The results of the additional funding were impressive,” said Diane Nordstrom, Tourism Director. “Comparing April 2008 to April 2009, hits to our website increased 439 percent. In addition, accommodation providers have expressed that the number of bookings for lodging have increased over this time.

“Winning this award from DMANC would not have been possible without the support of both the Tourism Advisory Board and the Board of Commissioners,” said Nordstrom. “We are fortunate in Currituck to have leaders that see the value of investing in tourism and support our marketing efforts.”

The 2009 Currituck Outer Banks Visitor’s Guide, which took first place in the Best Visitor’s Guide category, features activities and provides the tools visitors need to plan a trip to the area, including: accommodations, attractions, events, and other important visitor information. The Tourism Department had 200,000 copies printed of the guide.

The awards were presented at the DMANC annual awards banquet, held this week in Concord. There were 184 award entries from tourism departments/visitors bureaus across North Carolina; approximately 30 awards were presented. The judges were national and international tourism professionals including advertising agency representatives and marketing specialists.

Tourism staff members who were involved in the projects were: Diane Nordstrom, Director; Veronica Brown, Marketing Coordinator; and Irina Coccetti, Public Relations Coordinator.