Roanoke Valley -
Since 2010, Virginia's Blue Ridge hired a public relations firm to help market the area. With that other initiatives took place including a collaborative effort from local hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Virginia's Blue Ridge had to cut some funds in other areas including advertising to pay about $100,000 annually for the public relations firm. The money comes from cutting advertising costs and through a grant from the Virginia Tourism corporation. The firm invites what it deems as a group of qualified journalists to the area for several days. Their airfare and travel is paid for and local businesses sponsor the journalists' stay.
"From an initiative this is the first time we brought in groups this large for this long and built tracks to give them the highlights of this region and to take new story ideas from season to season," says Catherine Fox, director of public relations and tourism.
One of those journalists is Steve Winston who was invited on one of the groups last year. He named Roanoke on his top ten list for Valentine's Day Getaways featured on World Property Channel. In a phone interview, he told us he loved the "retro feel" of Grandin Village and thought it was a great spot for a Valentines Day trip.