Answers provided by Judy Winslow, Director of Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism
What new projects/developments or changes in business practices are coming in the next year and beyond? How will these projects/developments impact visitation?
Windsor Castle Park Natural Playscape; LOVEworks Display; 40th anniversary book and exhibit at museum; Joseph W. Luter Multisports Complex; Aberdeen Farm, Distillery, Winery, The Salty Southern Route Tour (A Pork and Peanut experience!) with surrounding local partners.
We are looking for both the Windsor Castle Park Natural Playscape and the Sports Complex to increase family visitation numbers. We are also looking to increase millennial visitation as a weekend getaway, destination wedding venue and with increased “spirits” events and destinations.
What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?
We will be creating an all new mobile responsive website and will be continuing to morph much of our advertising focus to digital.
What are your largest challenges and obstacles? Who is your competition?
Our largest challenges as a department are budget constraints and getting it all done with a tiny staff! We also market places and events that we don’t “manage,” so great communication is a top concern. We consider all of the other localities in our market “co-opetition” and love being a part of CVTA! Smithfield & Isle of Wight is a unique entity in Coastal Virginia, and we can differentiate ourselves. Our competition are other historic small towns such as Cape Charles, Ashland, Edenton, etc.
What does tourism mean to Smithfield/Isle of Wight? How does it affect local taxes, and how does it affect our quality of life? How does it help drive our local economy, jobs and the quality of our schools and education system?
Tourism is hugely important in Smithfield and Isle of Wight. While HAM is by far the #1 industry, we like to say Tourism is #2! Many of our local shops, restaurants and, of course, our attractions rely on visitors to make or break their businesses. Tourism events and marketing help drive our local economy and our own residents’ quality of life.
From a tourism standpoint, the combined assets of Coastal Virginia seem hard to rival. Do you feel that the cities of Coastal Virginia sufficiently work together to boost tourism? If not, how do you think that the relationships among cities could improve?
Tourism in Coastal Virginia has worked together incredibly well though the Coastal Virginia Tourism Alliance, thanks to the unwavering support of the late Jim Ricketts and other directors of tourism in this area. In fact, we are often touted as the best example of regional cooperation in state tourism by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. I believe that this group should have more of a seat at the table at all regional discussions as tourism is a pillar of economic activity in our region.