Discover America Virtual Event Focuses on Drive Market States as Land Border to U.S. Reopens

Susan Webb, President of VoX International, served as the point of contact for the virtual event.
Susan Webb, President of VoX International, served as the point of contact for the virtual event.

On 18NOV, Discover America Canada, the U.S. organization dedicated to Canadian tourists, hosted a virtual Media Day with representatives from half a dozen American states.

In a shift to post-pandemic travel, presentations focused on offerings and information for media and travel professionals to pass along to clients, rather than COVID rates or health and safety issues.

Each destination representative, from Georgia, Myrtle Beach, Massachusetts, Utah, Virginia, and Visit Florida discussed regional highlights, attractions, cuisine, activities, and more.

All of the destinations who were represented at the event, with the exception of Utah, are within driving distance for Canadians. As the U.S. land border reopened on 08NOV, American destinations are looking to lure back Canadian visitors, particularly those who drive. For example, Bri Warner of Virginia, highlighted that pre-pandemic, 80 per cent of Canadian visitors drove to that state.

Georgia

Roland Alonzi and Amanda Peacock, both representing Explore Georgia, talked to Open Jaw and other media members about the highlights of the state’s various regions, from the Atlanta Metro Area, Northwest Georgia, the Golden Isles, Savannah, and more.

Highlights included Jekyll Island, a state-protected land along coastal Georgia featuring historic accommodations including Jekyll Island Club Resort. Other highlights also included Savannah, with attractions including Forsyth Park, made famous by Forrest Gump, and the new JW Marriott.

Travellers looking for beverage and dining options may be pleasantly surprised by the wineries in Northwest Georgia, as well as the many distilleries in the region. They also highlighted the state’s variety of culinary flavours, from seafood along the coast, barbeque, and soul food.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, presented by representative Kimberly Hartley, welcomed 500,000 Canadians per year pre-pandemic. While Porter Airlines has not yet resumed flights to Myrtle Beach, the destination is a 15-hour drive from Southern Ontario.

Hartley highlighted the breadth of offerings for Canadian travellers, including more than 157,000 accommodations. In particular, she noted that condo resorts are growing more popular as a “home away from home,” and demand for beach homes is also growing.

Myrtle Beach offers more than 1,800 restaurants featuring coastal Carolina cuisine, seafood, calabash, barbeque, and more, and is host to a number of culinary festivals.

Of particular note to Canadian travel professionals, Myrtle Beach is also hosting a “Can Am” special, with discounts for Canadian travellers booking in advance for travel to the destination between JAN and APR 2022. From 12-30MAR 2022, Myrtle Beach will also be hosting “Can-Am Days,” with discounts on lodging, attractions, and dining.

Massachusetts

Maria Speridakos provided updates for Massachusetts, which welcomed 700,000 Canadian visitors per year pre-pandemic. Canada is the state’s largest market.

Known as “the state of firsts,” Massachusetts’ claims to fame include the first free public library in America, the country’s first university, and the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Speridakos discussed offerings for the Greater Boston Area; the North of Boston region which she says is best to explore by train; the cranberry region of South of Boston; the apple picking areas in Central Massachusetts, and more. The state is also home to over 45 lighthouses, many of which can be found in Cape Cod and The Islands.

Virginia

Virginia, presented by Bri Warner, is located 800 kilometers from the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, Washington’s IAD and DCA are also located in the state for easy access by air.

The state’s tourist motto is “Virginia is for Lovers,” and Warner highlighted the variety of offerings for lovers of the outdoors, food, music, and more.

Those looking for outdoor activities can enjoy 40 state parks and 22 national parks, as well as 900 kilometers of Appalachian trails. Travellers looking for beverage and culinary offerings can find more than 300 craft breweries, more than 300 wineries, and 8 different oyster regions, among other delicacies.

Virginia offers options for musical lovers, including the Wolf Trap national park dedicated to the performing arts, as well as various family-friendly attractions.

Utah

Heather McGillivray, a Visit Utah associate from Vancouver, along with Zach Fyne of Visit Utah, presented the state’s focus on sustainable travel.

LAS, as well as the newly redeveloped Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), serve as the two gateway airports for the state.

Utah is home to five national parks, known as “the Mighty 5.” Northern Utah holds 15 ski resorts, with many located by the Wasatch Mountain Range. 2022 will mark the 20th anniversary of when the Olympic Games were previously hosted in Salt Lake City, and McGillivray highlighted that there will be celebrations for the occasion. In addition, a Club Med resort is set to open in Snowbasin, Utah, by 2024.

Travellers looking to see the Milky Way can enjoy the variety of dark sky locations in Southern Utah, which was certified to hold more than anywhere else in the world.

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