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Grayson unveils visitors' guide

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Grayson took a step forward in trying to attract more tourism to the county by unveiling its 2008 Visitor’s Guide on July 14.

Congressman Rick Boucher was on hand to unveil the guide. “We are here today to unveil a key milestone for Grayson County in the area of tourism.”

The process began in April 2006 when former Board of Supervisors Chairman Ralph Tuggle and Boucher announced a significant economic development initiative for Grayson — the creation of a citizens task force appointed by the board to explore ways in which the quality of life in Grayson could be enhanced through broadband telecommunications and the enhancement of the tourism economy.

Boucher said later that year he and Tuggle received recommendations from the task force, which suggested the county develop a resource to enhance the tourism economy and promote economic development.

“We have gathered here today to unveil a major new tourism development tool that will undoubtedly do both,” said Boucher.

The guide is a full color, 24-page publication describing events, attractions, activities, lodging and other assets of interest to travelers to the area.

Grayson Assistant County Administrator Felicia Hash said more than 70,000 brochures were printed initially with more than 50,000 distributed worldwide already. Requests for information came in from across the United States, Canada and even West Africa.

More than 5,000 have been distributed to local businesses in hopes that people visiting the area will not only make a return trip, but also spread the word to friends and neighbors.

“This is going to do much to help tourism in Grayson County,” said Boucher. “We have the best outdoor experience.”

Boucher noted the “truly unique” culture Grayson had to offer, including Virginia’s highest mountain peak and the most unique river.

The guides will be placed in visitor centers across Virginia, as well as in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“We weren’t sure where we were going several years ago,” said Tuggle. “We knew tourism was growing and would be important..”

Tuggle added that the process of bringing a strong tourism industry to the area was ongoing.

Supervisors’ Chairman Mike Maynard thanked those who worked hard on the guide. “It is a very good example of what the citizens can do when they get excited.”

Grayson County Administrator Bill Ring noted that the process had been a joint effort between several groups. “Tourism is a very important part of the economy in Grayson County. It’s outstanding to me to have 50,000 [brochures] shipped already.”

“I’m truly excited about the brochure and the things it will do for the county,” Hash said. “If a small percentage of those who see this brochure visit [Grayson] it will have a significant impact on our local economy.”