This new logo for Visit NRV was revealed at Thursday’s gathering at Pulaski County Motorsports Park
This map shows the route for the expansion of the New River Water Trail which will extend from Pulaski County to the West Virginia state line along the New River
By WILLIAM PAINE
Representatives from the five tourist offices of the New River Valley gathered at the newly renamed Pulaski County Motorsports Park (formerly known as the Motor Mile Speedway) to make a joint announcement relating to the future of tourism in this region.
Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet opened the event noting that in the year 2022, $25.2 billion was spent on tourism in the state of Virginia. Of that amount, 383 million dollars were spent in the New River Valley region.
Sweet introduced Virginia Governor Glenn Younkin, who appeared in a pre-recorded video wherein he promoted the importance of Virginia tourism and noted that this was the 40th Anniversary of National Tourism Week.
Giles County Tourism Director Cora Gnegy acted as emcee for the gathering and promoted the central theme of the meeting, which was the newly emphasized spirit of collaboration and promotion between tourist bureaus in the NRV.
Kathleen Armstrong of the New River Valley Regional Commission announced that the New River Water Trail will now be extended to three additional counties in the NRV. The New River Water Trail currently extends 37 miles along the New River in Giles County but will soon include the riverside walk in Sheffey Park near the community of New River in Pulaski County. The New River Water Trail will eventually extend into Radford and Montgomery Counties and cover a distance of 61 miles in total. Four new boat launches will be created along the New River as part of the project, including one at Sheffey Park.
Construction of the trail will be funded by an Appalachian Regional Commission Power Grant, along with matching funds from each locality.
Representing Montgomery County tourism, David Rotenizer emphasized the natural, cultural and technologic heritage of the NRV region. According to Rotenizer, Pulaski, Giles, Montgomery and Floyd Counties along with the City of Radford, receive an average of $77 million of positive economic impact from the tourist industry on an annual basis.
Judy Lynch of Delegate Jason Ballard’s office read a resolution asking that Pulaski, Giles and Montgomery Counties, along with the City of Radford and the towns of Dublin, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Glenn Lynn, Pembroke, Rich Creek and Pulaski be included in Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region, so that “succeeding generations be equipped to share the history and understanding of the significant role that rail service played in developing the region.”
Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region in the Commonwealth was created to promote and celebrate railroad history in areas with a high concentration of rail facilities but when the General Assembly formed the Rail Heritage Region, it left out the New River Valley. This resolution, which is supported by the leaders of NRV localities, aims to rectify that oversight.
Dr. Anita Zatori, who teaches classes on tourism and special events at Radford University, spoke about experiential tourism, which focuses on tourists, “actively engaging in the culture, history, food and the environment that the destination has to offer.”
Dr. Vincent Magnini, who works as a consultant and data analyst concentrating on tourism, went into great detail about “who is coming to the NRV and why.” Magnini’s data analysis found that out of towners appreciate the inherent beauty of the region, as well as the friendliness and relaxed nature of its inhabitants.
Doubtless the most significant aspect of this coming together of NRV tourism leaders was the “Big Reveal” of the new Visit the NRV website and accompanying logos. Bruce Bryon representing Five Points Creative unveiled the new logo, which is made in the form of a multi-colored boot print with the words VISIT NRV spelled in the treads. A sunshine image is incorporated in the toe with the words ‘Find Your Ahhhh’ imprinted in the heal area of the image.
‘Find You Ahhhh in the NRV’ will now serve as the stand-alone motto for NRV tourism.
The website features appealing aspects of all five localities in the NRV and each of these destinations includes a set of subcategories under the headings of: Outdoors, Sip and Savor, Culture, Shopping and Attractions. The website also features short video clips, maps and links to tourist-oriented businesses in the region, as well as the Visit NRV Facebook page.
“I think what could bring people here is the promise of an exciting new experience,” said Anita Zatori. “This is what the new website is focusing on. It’s saying come here and experience that ‘Ahhh’ moment.”
“Today’s reveal was an important economic step for the New River Valley because if we can collectively offer things for each area, then we can put itineraries together and market to places like Hampton Roads and Richmond,” said Pulaski County Tourism Director Peggy White. “Right now, independently, you can’t afford the marketing in those areas. If we can do it collectively, it will give us a larger market area to bring tourism here. We know that people love it here. They want to live here. They want to play here. It’s a beautiful area and the website really brings it all together. Five Points did a tremendous job bringing this all together with five different entities. We’re kind of in the eclectic area and I think they captured that totally.”