Highland tourism plan ready for review

Monterey, Va. – After more than two years of work, the Tourism Subcommittee of the Highland Economic Development Authority is nearly ready to present a Tourism Strategic Plan to the EDA and the Board of Supervisors. Subcommittee member Clay Hamilton discusses how this plan was developed.

“So it’s not finalized yet, but it’s close,” said Mr. Hamilton. “The document that we are ready to present to the full EDA Board for approval and then it will go to the Supervisors, has been the product of more than two year’s work. Beginning in the spring of 2010, the Tourism Subcommittee started its work, originally under the Chamber (of Commerce) and then under the EDA. On three June of that year, Betty Mitchell was able to secure the consultative services of Randall Rose of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, to come to the Highland Center to lead us and guide us and consult with us on the basic elements of a strategic plan for tourism,” he said.

Mr. Hamilton goes on to add more details on the creation of the plan.

“He guided us through the intricacies of putting together a plan that was both professional and comprehensive,” said Mr. Hamilton. “His help was critical. We couldn’t do that on our own. We didn’t know how to do that. But the subcommittee, taking his advice, his guidance and his counsel, has put together a draft document that I think is both professional and comprehensive. The entire process, as I mentioned, started more than two years ago and is now just about finished. The process has been extensive. It included input from not only the Subcommittee members but also many private Highland individuals and groups. Everybody had suggestions. Many of them were taken – a few were not.

Mr. Hamilton talks further about the goals developed in the Tourism Strategic Plan.

“The plan contains an absolute host of information and a wide range of tourism goals,” said Mr. Hamilton. “For example, this plan contains a really comprehensive list of the tourist attractions in Highland County that exist now. It contains the strengths and the weaknesses in Highland County that would hinder or support tourism. And it has a host of statistics on how many people have made inquiries to the Chamber (of Commerce) for more information. These are people who have come to Highland County maybe once, maybe to the Maple Festival or to some other attraction, and gone home and said gee, we’d like to know more’. And they contact the Chamber, usually through the website. And we have very good statistics on that from 2003 to the middle of 2010,” he said.

Mr. Hamilton concludes by giving the next stages in the Tourism Strategic Planning process.

“Finally, it has a list of individuals and groups that could be targeted to encourage them to come and stay in Highland County,” said Mr. Hamilton. “And there’s much more. Those are just some of the examples of the things that this strategic plan contains. As I said, this plan will be presented to the full Board of the EDA for their approval soon and then it will go to the Supervisors for their consideration,” he said.

The Economic Development Authority will take up consideration of the Tourism Plan in the near future.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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