Officials Hope New Ads Provide Tourism Boost

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Reed Travel Features

RALEIGH -- North Carolina officials are hoping that a new advertising campaign will provide a boost for the state's tourism industry.

Research indicated that the state did not have a strong image among travelers, even though visitors recognize North Carolina for its scenic beauty.

According to Harry Hoover, vice president of public relations for the state's advertising agency, "Our new research shows that our visitors expect a restful, relaxing vacation amid beautiful natural scenery.

"They know North Carolina means beautiful scenery, and we have it in spades."

The campaign's initial focuses are the state's heritage and natural resources.

In print ads, the heritage campaign features a black and white photo of four African-American men at a lunch counter (the four Greensboro college students who insisted on being served in 1960) and carries the headline, "Here, four brave people refused to move. What they did moved and entire nation."

Other "heritage" areas noted in another placement include the Mattye Reed African Heritage Museum; the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham that is centered in and around a 105-year-old church, and Parrish Street, which was nicknamed the Black Wall Street in the 1920s because of the many successful entrepreneurs of color there (it also is where the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., the largest black-owned business in the U.S., got its start).

There is a mention given to a memorial in Manteo placed in honor of Capt. Richard Etheridge, a native of the state who in the 1800s commanded America's only all-black Coast Guard station.

Another ad focuses on the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. The headline reads: "The first English settlers vanished into the mists of history here. We've been looking for them ever since."

The text suggests visitors come and take up the search.

The ad also suggests that tourists explore North Carolina's coastal history by visiting the place where the Wright Brothers learned to fly, skin dive on a barrier island where there are more than 2,000 shipwrecks and search for the booty of Blackbeard or take in Fort Macon, where one of the Civil War's pivotal battles was fought.

To focus on the state's natural resources, other ads read:

* "According to geologists, North Carolina was once connected to Africa." The text claims the connection is at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

* "Colossal upheavals, landslides and brutal glaciers make for darned fine hiking trails." The connection: There are more than 900 miles of hiking trails in the state, such as Lost Cove, Devil's Courthouse or Booger Man.

* "Out here, we haven't burned our bridges with the 20th century. We just never built them." The connection: The string of barrier islands that grace the coast.

* "Remember how, when you were a child, you had your own secret hiding place?" The connection: quiet, remote areas to be discovered in the mountains and virgin forests. For details, call (919) 733-4171.

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