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Charleston to host 2014 Southern travel showcase

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tourism organizations from across the South will come to Charleston in 2014.

This will be the first time that West Virginia has hosted the annual Travel South Showcase, scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2014.

Most of the activities will take place in the Charleston Civic Center.

"West Virginia's world-class adventure and leisure attractions resonate with all those who have experienced the beauty and wonder of our hills, unique cities and shops," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a prepared statement. "As hosts, we enjoy the benefit of showing tourism industry leaders our vast recreational activities available for all to enjoy, and I'm confident our hospitality will lead to further tourism investments."

The showcase, in its 30th year, is an invitation-only marketplace for Southern tourism organizations to connect with tour operators who focus on developing Southern tours. Thirty media writers from large travel publications also are expected to attend, said Lindsay Gardner, public relations manager for the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The three-day event, which typically draws more that 500 people, is expected to have an economic impact of just under $500,000, Gardner said. Officials hope the long-term impact will be larger.

"Economically, we're hoping this is going to resonate with individuals who come here and that's its going to have a long-term, wide-reaching effect on businesses, hotels and restaurants -- anything and everything that is Charleston," Gardner said.

Gardner said Charleston and the whole state has "a little bit of everything" for travelers.

"It's a hub for adventure, gorgeous scenery and local shops," Gardner said. "We have a lot of history travelers who want to see the capital city, the Culture Center and other landmarks. And we have a lot of religious travelers."

This is the first time Charleston has bid to be the host city, said Travel South USA Executive Director Liz Bittner. The organization's board members unanimously voted for the Mountain State, she said.

"We're very excited to be in West Virginia," Bittner said. "We're looking forward to putting together just a dynamite program to showcase all the things there are to do and see in West Virginia."

For more information about the showcase, visit www.travelsouthusa.org. For more information about the state's tourism, visit www.wvtourism.com.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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