The Virginia Tourism Corporation has taken a small investment and not only won a national award, but turned it into what could potentially be a HUGE boost to the state—especially the most economically distressed communities.
The Best Advertising Mercury Award from U.S. Travel was awarded for the Commonwealth’s unique "Old School Virginia" campaign.
The campaign showcases Virginia’s small towns and provides road trip ideas. VTC Vice President Chris Canfield says most of their tourism partners have less than $10,000 for advertising, so instead of asking them for money, they solicited photos.
"We sent them these little cheap, plastic cameras that uses film and we said, 'Go out and shoot seven of the most coolest things in your town and send them to us."'
The pictures were posted on-line, and visitors can also upload their own Virginia vacation photos. The goal was to get travelers within the U.S. to enter contests to win trips, tours, movie passes, cameras with the "Virginia is for Lovers" logo—and more.
"And we were hoping to be in D.C. and New York, North Carolina and we ended up all over the world with two-thousand entries from Germany alone."
More than 40,000 entries came in from 68 countries. Canfield says tourists spend $55-million per day in Virginia, but the state has to fight to attract them.
He says the campaign helped localities with little money build travel itineraries and showcase diners, theaters, parks, battlefields and other landmarks unknown to many visitors.