North Carolina starts agency search to boost tourism

RALEIGH, NC: The state of North Carolina has released RFPs seeking agency help to promote it as a tourism destination in Canada, Germany, and the UK.

RALEIGH, NC: The state of North Carolina has released RFPs seeking agency help to promote it as a tourism destination in Canada, Germany, and the UK.

The winning firms are expected to provide services including PR, consulting, and marketing expansion efforts. The contracts are worth more than $1.2 million combined. The deadlines to respond to the RFPs are January 22, 2013, for Canada; January 23 for Germany; and January 24 for the UK contract.

Incumbents on the accounts are Connect Worldwide in Canada; Weichmann Tourism Service in Germany; and Hills Balfour Synergy in the UK.

The winning firms will be expected to create a communications plan including a press-clipping service for all North Carolina travel and tourism articles in those specific countries. They will also be required to put together a press kit for travel writers at key publications and to send releases on a regular basis.

The firms will also be in charge of coordinating group press trips to North Carolina to introduce the state to foreign markets, coordinating and participating in trade shows, and overseeing websites, e-newsletters, podcasts, RSS feeds, and social media.

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, said Heidi Walters, director of international marketing at the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development.

The number of tourists visiting the state has risen steadily in recent years. According to its 2011 annual report, approximately 37.2 million people visited North Carolina that year, compared with 36.8 million in 2010 and 35.9 million in 2009.

In September, Visit Florida hired Reputations UK Limited to lead a team of agencies to promote that state throughout Europe.

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