W. Va. luring coach passengers with garden show

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WHEELING, W.Va. -- For travelers in search of tulips in bloom, the season is about to begin in northern West Virginia.

For the second year, a Tip-Toe Through the Tulips package welcomes motorcoach passengers to view the flowers of Waddington Gardens here.

The gardens, located on the grounds of the 1,650-acre Oglebay Resort & Conference Center, feature a spring floral landscape of tulips, pansies, daffodils and hyacinths.

Harvey Show Tours and the Wheeling Convention & Visitors Bureau are offering the two-night itinerary, available from April 18 through May 9. The package includes accommodations at a participating property, some meals and admission to attractions such as Wheeling Downs Racetrack & Gaming Center.

Gaming activities at Wheeling Downs include greyhound racing, video slots, poker, blackjack and keno. Among live entertainment pickings, country music fans can attend Jamboree USA, the second-oldest country music showcase in the U.S. after the Grand Ole Opry.

Other tourist attractions include the 150-year-old Wheeling suspension bridge, which tourism officials tout as the oldest long-span suspension bridge in the world.

The Wheeling CVB will sponsor a 150th anniversary celebration in November to honor the Ohio River span.

The program is an example of what Tom Zubruch of Harvey Show Tours, a destination management company, called "partnered packaging." Zubruch, along with a partnership of hotels, attractions and Wheeling CVB officials, met to develop themed packages that will encourage operators to bring motorcoach tours to the area.

The involved tourism entities plan their programs and services to reinforce the tour package theme. "You've got to come up with a hook," he said. Zubruch admitted that the partnered-packaging approach is "a lot of work," but he noted that the effort gives visitors a new perspective on a destination, especially in the off-season.

Harvey Show Tours sponsors similar themed packages that travel to Richmond, Va., and Pittsburgh, among other cities. Whereas the first themed package brought seven coaches to Wheeling during tulip time in 1998, 20 coaches already have booked for this season, including some repeat visitors.

"If you do the job right," he said, "they'll come back."

Harvey Show Tours
Phone: (800) 888-0092
Fax: (304) 737-4005

Wheeling Convention & Visitors Bureau
Phone: (800) 828-3097
Web: www.wheelingcvb.com

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