ASHEBORO, NC — The North Carolina Zoo, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, becomes one of the state’s most visible attractions with its place on the cover of “The Official 2014 North Carolina Travel Guide.” The North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development unveiled the guide today with a special an event in Asheboro hosted by the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau.

This is a very exciting announcement, said Hal Johnson, chairman of the board of the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority.

“The North Carolina Zoo, Randolph County’s largest attraction, has not only made a major impact on our state and region’s tourism economy, it has also become the state’s chief educational resource and example of maintaining and sustaining our fragile environment and habitats,” said Johnson “It is an honor to be the home of the North Carolina Zoo, and to have this prized attraction grace the cover of the North Carolina Travel Guide.”

Two covers are available for the guide, which is published in print and digital formats. One features Jamani and year-old Bomassa, two of the western lowland gorillas at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2014; the other features Pinehurst, whose No. 2 golf course will make history in June as the first to host both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open championships on back-to-back weekends. Readers of the digital guide will see both images.

“What a great opportunity to work with our friends at the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau to advance the unique opportunities that can be found only in North Carolina’s central region,” said Tammy O’Kelley, TDA director.

The zoo’s 40th birthday creates a timely reason to shine the spotlight on the zoo, said Wit Tuttell, executive director of the state tourism office.

“The zoo and Pinehurst are both state treasures, and their significance extends beyond North Carolina,” Tuttell said. “The zoo was the nation’s first state-supported zoo and the first built on the ‘natural habitat’ philosophy, and it has advanced the cause of species survival. The multiple gorilla births in 2012 is one recent success. And Pinehurst has a storied history that reaches another high point with the 2014 championships.”

Beginning today, travelers have a special opportunity to experience both attractions with “Putt & Play: The Travel Guide Sweepstakes.” The “Play” portion includes accommodations for four at the Hampton Inn of Asheboro, a zoo tour with a personal tour guide, a catered lunch and a Richland Creek Zip Line Canopy Tour excursion. The “Putt” portion includes accommodations for two at Pinehurst Resort for two nights, three rounds of golf, breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea. The prize also comes with $800 in gift cards plus a $500 Visa gift card to help cover transportation costs. Details and the entry form are posted at

The Travel Guide is available for free at all nine North Carolina interstate welcome centers, and by calling 1-800-VISITNC (847-4862) or by placing an order at, the state's official website for travel information. The digital version, distributed through the Scribd and Calaméo, can be accessed at Magazine apps for Android and iOS are also available.

The guides are also available locally at the I-73/74 Visitor Centers in Seagrove, and the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau in Asheboro, both of which are staffed and operated by the TDA.

The guide inspires travelers with alluring photographs and concise copy blocks in the style of an upscale catalog. Vibrant images of popular festivals, Southern culture, national parks and other attractions draw readers in and deliver essential information. Sections on beer and cult cuisine cater to travelers with an appetite. Exciting military-related sites are highlighted on two full pages that travel through history from the 1770s to modern times. The text direct readers to, the Division’s comprehensive travel website, for more information and ideas.

The visual effect is magnified in digital version, where content links to videos and slideshows as well as The magazine apps include tap-to-reveal features and pop-ups as well plus interactive maps of the Blue Ridge Parkway and beer festivals across the state.

Listings of 885 attractions and nearly 4,000 accommodations are organized by North Carolina’s three main regions — mountains, Piedmont and coast — with an introductory map for orientation. Each section highlights Civil War sites in recognition of the war’s sesquicentennial.

The Division of Tourism will distribute 550,000 copies of the 174-page guide. The publication, which is produced at no cost to taxpayers, represents a $1 million investment by division travel partners in print and online advertising and cooperative marketing efforts. Destinations, attractions and accommodations are listed for free.

Tourism remains one of the state’s most vital industries with economic activity and employment generated in each of the state’s 100 counties. Annually, visitors to North Carolina spend $19.4 billion, which accounts for nearly 200,000 jobs for North Carolinians. State and local tax revenues, as a result of the visitor spending, totaled more than $1.54 billion in 2012.