Hickory – Visit Hickory Metro, which is the tourism organization for Catawba County, will spotlight local tourism employees during National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) May 2 – 8, 2021. Tourism employees will be spotlighted on print media, talk radio and all of Visit Hickory Metro social media platforms.
This year, NTTW will recognize the POWER OF TRAVEL and the industry’s role in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the U.S. economy, rebuilding our workforce and reconnecting America. Visit Hickory Metro follows the same theme and joins in on spotlighting and thanking tourism employees in our community throughout NTTW.
“It has been an extremely challenging year in the travel and tourism industry due to the pandemic, but visitors are returning to our community which is a positive sign because when visitors return, they spend money in our community which helps businesses and the community as a whole,” said Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Center CEO Mandy Pitts Hildebrand. “Due to the pandemic year, it is hard to know exactly how many tourism employees are working in the county, but the last count was about 2,500 people and those employees could be working at the convention center or for one of the many hotels in our community or selling tickets at LP Frans Stadium or Hickory Motor Speedway, serving a meal at a local restaurant or assisting a customer at the Hickory Furniture Mart.”
Visitors come to the Hickory Metro for dozens of reasons, from business to leisure to sports. In May, several large sporting events will bring visitors to our area which include the Lady Bass Anglers Association (LBAA) national bass fishing tournament, a large soccer tournament with 40 plus teams and a basketball tournament with 80 plus teams and of course professional racing and baseball are in full swing this month.
“Every local tourism employee is valuable, and tourism is a major economic driver in our community,” added Hildebrand. “The travel and tourism industry is growing, and employees may start off thinking it is just a job, but that job can easily become a prosperous and fun career in hospitality.”
Some fun tourism facts:
• In 2019, the last figures reported by North Carolina, there were 2,510 people in Catawba County directly employed in the travel and tourism industry.
• Visitors spent more than $302 million dollars in Catawba County in 2019.
• There are more than 20 hotels and bed and breakfasts in the county and that doesn’t include registered Airbnb and vacation rentals.
• The Spa at Rock Barn brings visitors throughout the nation to Conover and customers claim it’s the best spa experience in the nation, especially with the addition of a salt room made of pure Himalayan salt blocks, free of toxins and pollutants.
• Hart Square Village in southwestern Catawba County, is home to the nation’s largest collection of log cabins from the 1800s, with over 100+ functional cabins.
• We have the second oldest art museum in North Carolina – the Hickory Museum of Art opened in 1944.
• We have the second microbrewery in North Carolina – Olde Hickory Brewery that started in 1994.
• Hickory Aviation Museum is one of the few museums with retired planes that served the country and people of all ages can sit right down in the pilot seat and imagine what it was like to fly the plane for the Air Force.
• The largest attraction in Catawba County is the Hickory Furniture Mart, which welcomes visitors year-round from all over the world.
• Hickory is home to one of 13 professional baseball teams in North Carolina, go Hickory Crawdads.
• Hickory Motor Speedway is often referred to as “The World’s Most Famous Short Track” and the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.”
• One place in the Hickory Metro that really has something for everyone is Catawba Farms. They sport a vineyard, winery, brewery, bed and breakfast, ice skating rink, farm, and teach yoga classes.
To learn more about tourism in the Hickory Metro go to www.VisitHickoryMetro.com, follow Visit Hickory on Facebook and/or Instagram or call (828) 322-1335. The 2021 Visit Hickory Destination Guide was just released and can be picked up at the Visitors Center at the Hickory Metro Convention Center at 1960 13th Ave. Dr. SE, Hickory and or available online at www.VisitHickoryMetro.com.
Photo: Daniel Barkley, Hickory Crawdads, Director of Operations and Special Events. “I love that I get the opportunity to work in baseball and am able to make an impact in the community.”