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Tourism has new digital marketing manager for social media, website

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau will end the fiscal year with about $685,000 in revenue from hotel room taxes, up from about $635,000 last year, a tourism official predicted.
James Meacham, executive director, said he will budget $685,000 for the coming year, which begins July 1, but expects to bring in more money if the occupancy rate continues to climb. March saw the highest hotel room tax rate revenue ever, $64,242.
The bureau now has five fulltime employees with the addition of Tara Ludwig, who earns $40,000 as the new digital marketing manager.
Ludwig manages all of the social media platforms for Rowan tourism, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. At Thursday’s Destination Marketing Committee meeting, Ludwig said she is considering adding a blog and YouTube channel.
She also will revamp the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website and make it more content driven, Meacham said.
In the past year, interaction with the Rowan tourism Facebook page has grown by nearly 25 percent, including 995 new “likes,” 8,500 click-throughs and 12,955 actions taken, such as sharing a post.
The bureau has several events coming up in the next year that could mean roughly 1,700 room nights, Meacham said. At an average rate of $80 per night, the events could generate about $140,000 in hotel revenue and an additional $8,300 in hotel occupancy tax revenue.
The events include:
• Catawba College men’s golf tournament with 18 teams in March 2015 and softball tournament with six teams in February 2015.
• N.C. Transportation Museum Streamliners event May 29 to June 1. So far, the event has sold 2,000 tickets to people in 31 states and three countries.
• General Baptist State Youth Oratorical Conference June 23-24, projected 200 room nights.
• Several fishing tournaments this fall with 525 projected room nights.
• Southeast Land Trust Excellence Fall Retreat Nov. 11-13
• Possible 2016 Antique Automobile Club of America Tour, projected 450 room nights.
The bureau also shares a new position with four other agencies in the Gateway Building. Lloyd Harding, partner services coordinator, works 30 hours a week at the new central desk on the redesigned Gateway first floor.

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