Contact: Tammy O'Kelley

ASHEBORO – Local area tourism industry professionals will join more than 400 industry leaders from across the state for the 2008 North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism on March 16 through 18, 2008 in Winston-Salem. Representatives to the conference from Randolph County will include Tammy O’Kelley and Amber Williams, Randolph County Tourism Development Authority; Chris Bulla, Kim Allgood, and Lane Ragsdale, North Carolina Zoo.

O’Kelley will introduce the Public Service Award in Honor of Bill Sharpe at the Winner’s Circle Luncheon on Monday. In recognition of outstanding contributions by individuals and organizations for what they are doing or have done for the betterment, welfare, progress, recognition, promotion, and development of the travel industry of North Carolina the Public Service Award in honor of Bill Sharpe North Carolina’s first tourism director was established in 1987 and is awarded annually by the North Carolina Travel Industry Association.

This year’s conference will include welcome and opening comments from Secretary Jim Fain, N.C. Commerce and Winston-Salem mayor, Allen Joines; and a keynote general session by Peter Yesawich. Yesawich is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown, & Russell, America’s leading marketing advertising and public relations agency serving travel, leisure, and lifestyle clients.

This year’s Tourism Policy Panel will include Dana Simpson, N.C. Travel and Tourism Coalition; Paul Stone, N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association; and Connie Wilson, N.C. Travel Industry Association. The panel will be hosted by UNC TV’s Eszter Vajda and will cover a wide range of topics affecting the tourism industry across the state.

Randolph County area attractions, destinations, hotels, and travel industry partners teamed up this year to donate more than 10 great packages valued at nearly $2,000 to the Tourism Education Foundation’s Silent Auction . During the conference attendees will have the chance to bid on these donated items with funds raised to support a combination of undergraduate and graduate scholarships for students attending North Carolina colleges or universities enrolled in tourism or hospitality degree programs.

Randolph County Tourism Development Authority is a public authority created by the N.C. Legislature. The authority operates solely on occupancy taxes generated by overnight guests in Randolph County. For additional information please call 336 626-0364 or go to