The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation’s Tourism Division announced modifications to its comprehensive tourism effort to better align with visitor feedback and current tourism trends nationwide.
“We have seen changing trends in how people access destination information for some time,” said Mark Heath, the EDC’s President & CEO, “but everything changed in the spring of 2020 when the world was hit with COVID-19. From that point until now, virtually all information is accessed on-line through numerous platforms including websites, social media, and e-newsletters.”
As the EDC staff analyzed how best to deliver tourism services going forward in the current landscape, it became evident that a new direction was needed. The Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center has seen a substantial decrease in foot traffic over the past four years to an average of less than two guests per day. As a result of this decline, a key component of the Tourism realignment will be to close the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center as of February 25. Until then, the Visitor Center will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for anyone wanting to pick up brochures or purchase merchandise.
Going forward, a primary focus will be to work more closely with key destination attractions like the Martinsville Speedway, Virginia Museum of Natural History, the Smith River Sports Complex, Piedmont Arts, Philpott Lake, the Bassett Historical Center, Blue Ridge Airport and the Spencer Penn Centre. In addition to ongoing promotion via the EDC’s Tourism website (VisitMartinsville.com) and numerous social media platforms, the new approach includes the possibility of a ‘mobile’ visitor center to be placed at major destinations during events, and kiosks – both stationary and web-based – at major locations.
“In addition to these changes, Tourism staff will work diligently with our local partners to enhance our capacity to draw out of town visitors,” said Sarah Hodges, the EDC’s Director of Tourism and Talent Development. “These efforts will include the recruitment of new lodging properties, expansion of our trails system, and beautification and redevelopment support in Uptown Martinsville.”
“Staff has done a tremendous job of constantly evaluating our overall Tourism efforts, said Larry Ryder, EDC Board Chair. “I’m confident this realignment will pay dividends for the Martinsville-Henry County Tourism program going forward.”