North Carolina shakes up international tourism roster

RALEIGH, NC: The state of North Carolina has retained incumbent tourism agencies in Canada and Germany, but hired a new firm in the UK.

RALEIGH, NC: The state of North Carolina has retained incumbent tourism agencies in Canada and Germany, but hired a new firm in the UK.

The shops will provide services including PR, consulting, and marketing. The contracts are worth more than $1.2 million combined, and each can be renewed for up to three years.

Incumbents Connect Worldwide in Canada and Weichmann Tourism Service in Germany have retained their accounts, while Travel and Tourism Marketing will take over for Hills Balfour Synergy in the UK.

The state's decision to keep incumbents in Canada and Germany was a result of them showing “North Carolina's unique travel experience to top tour operators, media outlets, and consumers,” said Wit Tuttell, director of marketing for the state Department of Commerce's tourism division.

For its UK account, Tuttell said “we appreciate the creative and enthusiastic work that Hills Balfour has done for us, but decided that Travel and Tourism Marketing was a better fit to our current needs and resources.”

Travel data shows there was a dip in visitors from the UK in 2011, the last year statistics were released for the country, while the state saw an increase of tourists from Canada and Germany that year.

Visitors from Canada make up the largest group of international tourists to North Carolina. The UK and Germany are, respectively, the No. 1 and No. 2 sources of overseas visitors to the state, according to travel data.

Travel and Tourism Marketing has also promoted nearby Myrtle Beach, SC, as a travel destination to UK audiences.

Hills Balfour said budget cuts led to the change. 

“The destination is now well-positioned in the UK market, but due to ongoing budget cuts in international marketing expenditure, they have had to rethink their international strategy and the resources available to them,” said Hills Balfour MD Jonathan Sloan.

Charmaine Singh, president of Connect Worldwide Canada, said via email that her team “worked diligently to build a remarkable strategy that delivers results.” Weichmann has been “able to get to know the state and the wide variety of travel options,” said Rita Rille, MD at the firm.

A representative from Travel and Tourism Marketing did not return requests for comment.

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