Discover Prince William & Manassas Works with Partners to Expand Tourism Opportunities, Promotions

Discover Prince William & Manassas staff members (L-R) front row: Mike Stoupa, David DuVal, Mark Kowalewski; middle row: Susan Plattner, Kerry Lynch, Ann Marie Maher; top row: Elisa Pickette, Wendie Vestfall.

Discover Prince William & Manassas, the local tourism marketing agency, is working to expand tourism opportunities that benefit visitors and residents through working with community, regional and state partners.

Discover Prince William & Manassas held an awards ceremony and luncheon earlier this month at the Old Court House in Manassas. Celebrating partnerships was the theme. President and CEO of Discover Prince William & Manassas Ann Marie Maher recognized the community partners that helped the tourism agency accomplish great things in the previous year. At the center of those partnerships is the relationship between the agency and the jurisdictions they serve.

“The introduction of our national tourism week awards at this year’s event further identifies the individuals, leaders and businesses who stand out as making a positive difference to tourism over the past year,” Maher said. “Great tourist destinations don’t just happen…it takes the dedication and collaboration of our elected officials, business leaders and community members to make Prince William & Manassas a unique place to visit, live, work and play.”

The tourism agency presented four of their community partners with their 2014 Industry Awards. Winners were Partner of the Year: The National Museum of the Marine Corps represented by Gwenn Adams, Public Affairs Chief; Tourism Champion Award: City of Manassas accepted by Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II; Tourism Leader Award presented to Joann Barron of the Weems-Botts Museum; and the Stellar Service Award presented to Peggy Lanham of the Hampton Inn in Manassas. The Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association sponsored the awards.

In an interview with Bristow Beat after the event, Maher elaborated on the kinds of partnerships the tourism agency employs to help promote their events and destinations.

“First and foremost is our partnership with the City of Manassas and the county. It’s so critical because they are our stakeholders; they are the ones who invest,” Maher said in an interview with Bristow Beat after the event.

Mayor Parrish explained that his city is “smack dab in the middle of Prince William County” and recognized the advantage of those jurisdictions working as a team.

Discover Prince William & Manassas also works alongside the tourism agencies in the NOVA Visitors Consortium, said Maher, who is also president of the consortium. Currently, one of the projects the consortium is focusing on is marketing Northern Virginia to Canadians as a vacation destination.

Discover Prince William & Manassas Industry Award Winners 2014 stand with the agency's President/CEO Ann Marie Maher and Eric Terry, President of Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association.

Additionally, they are preparing to hold World Police and Fire Games 2015 in Fairfax County with few of the events taking place throughout the region, including in Prince William and Manassas.

Discover Prince William & Manassas also works cooperatively with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Together, they are attracting national and international tourists to Virginia and the region. Maher said international tourists help to fill the gap when economic factors hinder the regional or national economy. She said partnerships make for an especially smart strategy for Prince William, which is a smaller vacation destination.

When Discover Prince William & Manassas works with other tourism agencies, they share costs and marketing promotions; Maher says the result are beneficial for everyone.

Maher, along with other speakers at the luncheon, explained that tourism helps improve the quality of life for residents. Prince William and the City of Manassas together see over 3 million visitors annually and the industry has created over 6,400 local jobs.

Residents benefit from the transient occupancy tax visitors pay and the patronage they bring to local businesses such as restaurants, shops and theaters. Maher also believes residents benefit from visiting venues and events in the area that primarily serve as tourist attractions.

The example she gave was the National Museum of the Marine Corp. It attracts 500,000 people per year, most of them visitors, but it is a resource residents also enjoy. The same is true of the battlefields. While visitors might primarily appreciate them for their historic value, residents enjoy the land preservation and opportunities to walk or hike the properties while appreciating nature.

Guest speaker, Supervisor John Jenkins of the Neabsco district, noted that it “enhances the quality of life,” saying tourism provides “huge chunks of money for parks, recreation and two new libraries.”

Because tourism is lucrative for the region in many ways, Discover Prince William & Manassas is always looking to work with its partners to increase tourism opportunities. At one time, Prince William mostly offered historical tourism, but now that has evolved to include many other tourism opportunities.

Prince William tourism includes various avenues, and sports tourism features heavily into the agency’s plan for the future. Sports tourism includes Potomac Nationals games, the Fun Run Racing series of 5K races, high profile events such as the 2015 Quicken Loans National Golf tournament at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club as part of the PGA tour and the World Police & Fire Games 2015.

Even youth sports play a role. Upgraded, well-maintained fields can also attract youth “world series” or tournaments that increase tourism.

New stores and restaurants like the Promenade at Virginia Gateway Center help make the area more attractive as do new luxury hotels, of which Prince William has four on the horizon including one at the Promenade.

However, Discover Prince William & Manassas still has Civil War events planned. Even after the 150th anniversary Civil War events have expired, representatives of the tourism agency say they hope to continue to offer historical events, and to be recognized among other prominent Civil War destinations.

U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual celebration during the first week in May to promote the impact travel has on local economies, businesses and individuals. In its 31styear, more than 150 communities across the country host events which showcase the positive impact of travel and tourism.

Readers can learn more about Discover Prince William & Manassas by visiting discoverpwm.com.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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