(PRLEAP.COM) ATLANTA, Ga. (July 11, 2007) — Arkansas, where tourism is a $5.05 billion industry, is joining Southeast Tourism Society. This expands the association to 12 states, according to STS President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Hardman.
“ Travel Marketing Professionals. ”
STS is a professional organization headquartered in Atlanta that promotes tourism in the Southeast through cooperative marketing programs, continuing education
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and public policy advocacy.
“We are very pleased with Bill Hardman’s invitation to join Southeast Tourism Society. Our office has kept a close eye on the organization in recent years, watching it emerge as one of the country’s premier tourism groups,” said Joe David Rice, Tourism Director, Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.
The Board of Commissioners of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism unanimously voted to join STS. Activity has begun to sign up the state’s initial members now that the state tourism department has joined.
STS members include state travel offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, tourism attractions, lodging properties, publications and other businesses involved in travel and tourism.
“Arkansas is ‘the Natural State,’ and Arkansas is a natural fit for STS,” Hardman said. “The STS states are joined by geography, a common culture, excellent food and a desire to advance the region’s economy through travel and tourism.”
Rice added, “We are eager to get involved and to work with the other members of the industry. Thanks to STS for their confidence in us.”
Hardman noted that tourism is the first, second or third largest industry in every Southeastern state.
STS promotes tourism through a variety of cooperative advertising programs and addresses governmental issues through the Southeastern Tourism Policy Council. It organizes the selection of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast every month, a program that draws attention to festivals, civic events and special activities throughout the region.
One of its most respected programs is the Southeast Tourism Marketing College, a three-year summer program whose graduates receive credentials as “Travel Marketing Professionals.”
The addition of Arkansas is the fourth time STS has expanded geographically. The association started with eight states in 1983—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee—and later added Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.