Hickory – The Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau is celebrating tourism throughout the month of May.

Since 1983, the National Travel and Tourism Week has been the first full week of May, which is May 1 – 7 this year. This week is America’s annual salute to travel and tourism and when tourism professionals from across the nation work throughout the week to promote the impactful contributions their travel markets and organizations make to the U.S. economy. Tourism is a growth industry in Catawba County, generating more than $241 million in expenditures last year, which is a 4.3 percent increase over the last year. In addition, about 2,200 people in Catawba County have tourism careers with a total payroll of about $43 million.

The Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau decided to celebrate the importance of tourism for more than a week and to “celebrate in a big way” by doing a “31 Days of May” campaign. This campaign showcases a few of the hundreds of the attractions, events, hotels, restaurants and more in our own backyard as well as spotlights the importance of tourism in our community.

“We are a community full of cultural gems, attractions for all from furniture shopping to racecars and baseball, to fine places for our visitors to stay and a plethora of restaurants that suits all taste buds,” said Mandy Pitts, CEO of the Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our local residents in the tourism industry are amazing, as they are dedicated to greeting visitors, whether they be from far away or near by, hospitable to all no matter the needs, and go the extra mile to tell our community’s story whether it be about how local foods are prepared in upscale restaurants to farmers markets, to how furniture is crafted, or how an art exhibit came together.”

The “31 Days of May” calendar can be found at www.hickorymetro.com/31daysofmay and the Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors staff and ambassadors will be at many of these events on the calendar giving out prizes.

“Events or activities on the calendar are suggestions of things to do during May to see what our community has to offer,” said Sarah Davis, Director of Sales for the Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s fun to win things, and locals that complete at least 15 of these activities on the calendar in any given order and post them on our Hickory Metro CVB social websites will win prizes, and the person who does everything on the list will receive a gift basket full of goodies from our community.”

A few things on the calendar include visiting the Steve McCury exhibit at the Hickory Museum of Art (its last day is May 8), Hickory Furniture Mart, Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory Crawdads, attending the Sails Original Music Series, Music in the Mill, Hickory Choral Society Pops Concert, Swinging Under the Stars, Western Piedmont Symphony lunch and learn and visit parks including Baker’s Mountain, Kiwanis Park – home of the Zahra Baker All-Children’s Playground, and Conover’s Splash pad. In addition events include enjoying live theatre, a host of visits to historical sites, and more.

“Those of you in tune with the community know that organizations are encouraging citizens to ‘tell our story,’ to those outside the Hickory Metro and all of the events going on in May can help you tell our story to your contacts across the globe,” added Pitts. “As an organization that promotes tourism for our community, we can purchase ads across the country promoting the Hickory Metro, but hearing an authentic story from peers, friends and family is the best way to pass on information, and when we all do our part by telling our story, it’s a win-win for all.”

The Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Center’s partners that will proclaim May as Tourism Month include the Catawba County Commissioners, Conover City Council and Hickory City Council.

For more information call the Hickory Metro CVB at (828) 322-1335 or visit Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or visit www.hickorymetro.com/31daysofmay for a full schedule of events for the month of May.