Yes, Virginia: Norfolk CVB develops packages

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NORFOLK, Va. -- The Norfolk Convention and Visitors Bureau is stepping up its efforts to increase visitor traffic to the area.

"In the past year, moves have been made to let the secrets of Norfolk be known to the traveling public," Beth Campion, the new vice president of sales and marketing, said.

Spearheading the moves are Campion and Tony DeFilippo, president and chief executive officer.

One of the first projects is the development of tour packages that should be completed by fall. The first of these will focus on the area's Civil War sites and antiquing options.

"This is but one of a number of new options we are spreading the word about for visitors to come to Norfolk," Campion said.

She added that future plans call for organized packages for family reunions and itineraries designed for African-American and other ethnic groups.

Campion said the city of Norfolk also is in a "renaissance."

"Four years ago, there was no downtown Norfolk, but it is now becoming the central attraction for locals and visitors. It is a walkable city with a waterfront and one that has a huge sense of community," she said.

Among the points of interest Campion cited were Granby Street, a sort of restaurant row; Ghent Street, which is dotted with art galleries; a thriving theater district; a developing waterfront, and a roster of festivals through October designed to suit almost anyone.

"Norfolk is becoming the mecca for the arts in Virginia and soon will be a major player in the cruise industry," Campion said. "Several cruise ships come to Norfolk as a turnaround port now."

According to Campion, a $2 million cruise ship terminal is nearing completion and should be ready to welcome Carnival Cruise Lines in October.

To attract group and convention business to the city, she said, travelers should know that the city offers good value in accommodations and activities.

"We have a free shuttle service along our waterfront and major entertainment attractions such as Nauticus [the National Maritime Center where the USS Wisconsin was placed this year] and the newly renovated NorVa Theater," she said.

The city's facilities for conventions include the Waterside Convention Center, which is attached to the Waterside Marriott Hotel and provides 60,000 square feet of space, and the Norfolk Scope Cultural and Convention Center, with 85,000 square feet of space.

Among other attractions the executive cited are MacArthur Center, a 1-million-square-foot mall; the Martin Luther King Memorial, which opened in January, and a zoo that is to open in April 2002.

For details, contact the Norfolk CVB at (800) 368-3097; (757) 664-6620 or access www.norfolkcvb.com.

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