Friday, August 23, 2013

Richmond Will Be A Gateway To Innovation as City Hosts Record-Breaking Tourism Conference

Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell speaking at...
Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell speaking at CPAC. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
~US Travel Association’s premier event draws brightest minds in tourism marketing to Virginia’s capital city~

RICHMOND Richmond is the host city for this week’s U.S. Travel Association Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO),  the only national forum where tourism destination professionals at the state, regional, and local level get critical tools, tips, and information to help them better market and grow their destinations. This premiere event, which is taking place August 18-20, draws the brightest minds in tourism marketing to Virginia’s capital city, and is expected to have record-breaking attendance with nearly 650 registered delegates. The 30th annual ESTO conference will also have an economic impact of nearly $1 million over the span of only three days, an outcome that will be felt throughout the city by all sectors of the hospitality industry, from hotels and attractions to transportation services and restaurants.

            “Virginia is thrilled to host the ESTO conference and showcase why we are one of the best and most hospitable places in America to visit,” said Governor McDonnell. “Tourism is one of the key drivers of the Virginia and U.S. economy, and this conference will draw some of the brightest minds in tourism together to learn, share, and develop successful strategies to help drive tourism in their communities and beyond.”

            “ESTO is like the Oscars of the tourism industry, and we are rolling out the red carpet in Richmond for our industry partners from across the country,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC). “This record-breaking conference is the only one of its kind where marketers from every state can come together to share ideas and best practices that they can then take home and implement to help improve—and sometimes revolutionize—their strategies and tactics. ESTO is an absolutely imperative training tool for tourism professionals, and we’re thrilled to be hosting it in Richmond this year.”

            This is the first time Richmond has hosted ESTO, and the third time the conference has taken place in Virginia. Governor Bob McDonnell, an avid supporter and advocate of Virginia tourism, is kicking-off the conference by speaking at the opening ceremony this morning at 9 a.m.

            Other speakers include actor Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire); composer Eric Whitacre of the Virtual Choir, Lux Aurumque; and a host of CEOs and executives representing every state in the country.

            ESTO is an opportunity to showcase Richmond’s businesses and organizations. Representatives from VCU Brandcenter, the Martin Agency, VTC, and Richmond Region Tourism will share their insights and experiences through seminars such as “How to Spark Killer Creative,” and “Crew Call: Film and TV in Your Destination,” which will highlight the success of the 2011 filming of Lincoln in and around Richmond.

            Playing off of the success of Lincoln and the film industry in Virginia, VTC will host the conclusion of the conference with the “double feature” of a closing reception and an awards ceremony, where the highly coveted Destiny Awards, Mercury Awards, and State Tourism Director of the Year Award will be handed out against the backdrop of an “old school” drive-in movie theater.

            For more information on the 2013 ESTO conference, speakers, program and more, please click here.

            Tourism and film are instant revenue generators for Virginia. In 2011, tourism in Virginia generated $20.4 billion in revenue, supported 207,000 jobs and provided $1.32 billion in state and local taxes. In 2011, the film industry in Virginia generated $394.4 million in revenue, supported 3,817 jobs and provided $59.9 million in state and local taxes.

            Amazing things happen when your heart’s in it.  Meet in Virginia! To receive a free 2013-2014 Virginia Meeting Planning Guide, visit
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