The Roanoke region is now “Virginia’s Blue Ridge” — at least for tourism purposes. As WFIR’s Evan Jones reports, the idea is to make people think of Roanoke when they think Blue Ridge and increase tourism as a result.

[audio:|titles=04-19 Blue Ridge Wrap2-WEB]

(Continue reading for the full news release.)

The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

Unveils New Destination Brand Name

 Roanoke, VA – The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) officially unveiled its new regional destination brand name at a news conference at 10:30 a.m., April 19 at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

Inspired by the area’s scenic beauty and natural charm, the Roanoke Valley’s new identity as Virginia’s Blue Ridge resulted from nearly a year of research aimed at discovering what visitors see as the area’s greatest assets, then translating those into a highly recognizable brand for the region.

Bart Wilner, President of the Roanoke Valley CVB, stated it best, “We have two world-class assets here in our midst, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway with national and international name recognition. It makes sense for us to capitalize on these national treasures.”  He went on to say, “Claiming the Blue Ridge Mountains as ours keeps us focused on the importance of regionalism and working together to benefit everyone.”

The research, conducted by North Star Destination Strategies, which has guided more than 130 tourism destinations through the branding process, showed that as the largest metropolitan center in the Blue Ridge Mountain chain, the Roanoke Valley boasts a metro-mountain mix with plenty to offer visitors – from adventure seekers and vacationing families to traveling professionals.

Key survey responses captured the essence and beauty of the region.  Landon Howard, Executive Director of the Roanoke Valley CVB, pointed out, “The research further explains how “metro and mountain” contrast but compliment one another, i.e. hike a mountain trail and railroad history or campsites and lively downtown nightlife. The mix that one finds in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”

The research included in-market and out-of-market interviews of visitors, meeting planners, travel writers, community stakeholders, regional and state tourism officials and competing destinations.

Visitors were asked about numerous aspects of their experiences while visiting the Roanoke Valley. The area’s scenic beauty earned a near-perfect score, with overall qualityof offerings, appearance of cities/towns, family-friendly offerings, dining options and recreational opportunities also ranking highly among consumers. In addition, signage, lodging, arts and cultural assets and shopping options were rated highly.

Top visitor markets for the region include Richmond, Virginia Beach, Northern Virginia and the North Carolina cities of Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte and Winston-Salem. Most of those surveyed stated they stopped to explore the area, while here to visit fiends and relatives and to tour the Blue Ridge Parkway. Landon Howard acknowledged, “In order to be competitive, a community must assert an identity that is both true and distinct.”

Tourism is BIG business and is an integral part of economic development. The Bureau is an investment for our region, and through expansive marketing efforts, collaborative partnerships and our new brand, the organization seeks to spur regional economic growth for many years to come.