ARLINGTON, Va. -- Seven Tidewater-area cities are promoting "100
Miles of Lights" packages from Thanksgiving through Jan. 2.
The cities, along with the Virginia Tourism Corp. and Arlington,
Va.-based Mid Atlantic Receptive Services as partners, developed
the program last year.
The cities have had holiday illuminations and many festivals and
special events in the past, but there was no joint marketing or
"This is really our first year," said Kate Scopetti, Mid
Atlantic president, explaining that the marketing thrust last year
was to get group tour operators interested for this year.
"Holiday programs are popular in many areas, and we weren't
getting our market share," said Scopetti.
The cities stretch from Richmond to Virginia Beach along I-64.
The other participating cities are Newport News, Hampton,
Norfolk, Portsmouth and Williamsburg.
Mid Atlantic sells programs at net rates to group operators and
also produces its own commissionable FIT packages.
Last year, several motorcoach tours were scheduled. This year
there are 25, mostly affinity groups, some flying in from as far as
Montana, others departing by coach from other parts of Virginia or
For FITs, Mid Atlantic has five packages, providing a choice of
two to four nights and two to seven cities, including
accommodations and admissions to events.
Prices start at $148 per person, double, for the Christmas of
Long Ago package, which includes two nights' accommodations plus
admission to attractions in Newport News, Williamsburg, Jamestown
The highest-priced plan, the $259 Beautiful Holiday Memories,
features all seven cities with four nights' accommodations and
admission to 14 attractions and events.
Packages can be customized with extra nights and tours, and
agents book their own air and car rentals for clients.
"There are more than 80 specific events, some lasting a day,
others going throughout the period," said a spokeswoman for the
Newport News Tourism Development Office, which handles publicity
for 100 Miles.
"They include musical performances, parades, reenactments and
the opening of historic homes," she said.
Notable are three drive-through illuminations: the Virginia
Beach boardwalk, beginning Nov. 17; the Newport News Park
Celebration, and Norfolk Botanical Garden's Garden of Lights, both
of which begin on Nov. 23.
According to the spokeswoman, the cities are close together, and
visitors can combine all three in one night.
On Nov. 18, Portsmouth/Norfolk buildings will be lighted and
Colonial Williamsburg will begin its traditional celebrations. On
Dec. 1, Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will begin its
walkthrough GardenFest of Lights.
Mid Atlantic's Scopetti said that for the 2001 program, she
plans to develop an expanded choice of shorter tours both for
groups and FITs.
Mid Atlantic, which specializes in group and FIT products
covering Washington, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware,
also plans to improve its Web site so agents can make reservations
and customize packages on line.
For further information, call Mid Atlantic at (800) 769-5912 or
check its Web site for packages at www.takeafuntrip.com.
For a calendar of events during 100 Miles, call the Newport News
Tourism Development Office at (888) 493-7386.
Agents can also e-mail [email protected] to receive an events