Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau is still accepting participants for its Dec. 9-12 “Rhythms of the South, Southern Marketplace” trade show that will showcase the Southeast as a tourist destination to international journalists and tour operators.
More than 100 tour operators and 30 international journalists will learn about the Southeast’s hotels, retail stores, restaurants, transportation companies and tourist attractions during a three-day trade show at the Georgia World Congress Center that aims to attract foreign visitors to the region.
Participants are also scheduled to visit Atlanta-area attractions including Delta Air Lines Inc.’s Delta Heritage Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the High Museum of Art.
This is the first time since its inception four years ago that Atlanta has hosted the Rhythms of the South trade show, which is jointly organized by the Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Atlanta, Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans, as well as Delta Air Lines.
While Atlanta is well positioned to show-off some of its newest attractions like the High’s three-year exhibit on loan from Paris’ Louvre Museum and the world’s largest marine and fresh water aquarium, which opened a year ago downtown, Rhythms of the South will feature exhibits from 11 southern states.
The goal is to attract foreign tourists to the Southeast region via the Atlanta airport while getting them spend some extra time in the city, according to Brandon Barnes, director of international and domestic tourism at Atlanta’s convention and visitors bureau.
“Internationally, when you’re competing for tourism, it makes more sense for us to present ourselves as a collective tourist destination,” Mr. Barnes told GlobalAtlanta. “But we want visitors to come to the region using Atlanta as a gateway and Delta as their carrier.”
Delta is, in fact, bringing many of the visiting journalists to Atlanta from areas where the company recently began direct international routes. Argentina, Denmark, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and the United Kingdom are among the countries from which journalists will arrive on new Delta flights.
The airline even helped to recruit the journalists using its foreign-based public relations and marketing offices as a starting point to identify reporters who would come to the Southeast.
“Delta’s PR contacts in those countries are great. Having a direct flight really helps you get the word out about Atlanta,” said Mr. Barnes, who expects to see an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Atlanta because of Delta’s international expansion plan.
The airline started more than 50 international routes since its expansion plan began in the summer of 2005.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Atlanta received 54 percent more international tourists in 2005 than in 2004, increasing from 366,000 foreign visitors in 2004 to 564,000 in 2005.
Atlanta’s 2005 figures only represent 2.6 percent of market share, however, with cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Orlando, Fla., attracting the most foreign visitors.
But Rhythms of the South aims to bump up Atlanta’s standing with international travelers and promote various aspects of the city including its thriving retail scene, according to Mr. Barnes, who travels around the world to promote the city as a tourist destination.
“Shopping is a huge appeal to international visitors,” Mr. Barnes said, citing Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls in Buckhead as well as Dawsonville’s North Georgia Premium Outlets as important tourist attractions.
His trips abroad have also proved to him that Atlanta is widely known as the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the backdrop to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind.”
Other states to be represented at the trade show include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
For more information on attending, visit http://www.rhythmsofthesouth.com/marketplace/registration.cfm
Contact the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau at (404) 521-6600 or visit www.atlanta.net.