September 2020
Our mission at Travel South USA is to establish the tourism industry as a leading sector of the Southern USA’s economy and the South as a top-tier global destination through our marketing, sales, public relations, and strategic partnerships.

We believe in:

  • Value – We are driven to create opportunities and results for our twelve states and their partner destinations
  • Partnership – We collaborate and build sustainable relationships
  • Passion – We are confident in who we are and committed to the work we do
  • Ingenuity – We are bold, innovative and willing to take risks
  • Y’all – We embody the spirit of authentic southern hospitality for all 
Greetings friends and partners,

These days, in the midst of the upheaval around us, uncertainty seems to be the only certainty we have, but I continue to be uplifted by the courage and strength of our industry these past seven months. 

I am confident we in the travel industry will adapt and preserve, as we have before. Normal will look different, but travel and tourism will continue to be a stabilizing force for people, communities, and economies. It will be the rebound of our industry that will help fuel a robust national economy, create new jobs, revive small businesses, and bolster tax revenues for local and state municipalities. 

That’s why — amid a pandemic, economic challenges, and social unrest — the Travel South USA Board of Directors met last month in West Virginia. Part in-person, part virtual, we met to transact the business our organization that has held tight for the past 55 years and discuss the business of leading the tourism sector in the South.

Over the course of the last few months, our group has been working on a comprehensive strategic planning project with The Coraggio Group. Their team has helped to shape the strategy and organizational change for clients such as Visit California, Travel Oregon, and San Diego CVB, along with Adidas.

We were planning this project before the pandemic and decided to go forward — not despite the challenges, but because of them. Travelers and the industry are navigating a “new normal” daily. How will we meaningfully respond, connect, and provide value?

Team leaders Chris Harder and Matthew Landkamer helped lead us through an intensive review of the very DNA of our brand. It involved surveys, stakeholder interviews, insight reporting, and task force meetings. We reimagined our vision, mission, values, and positioning. We also identified imperatives, objectives, and initiatives that will guide us through not just the current challenges, but for the next three to five years.  

The word “coraggio” means courage. The symbolism is not lost on me. It takes courage to see beyond the moment. Our roadmap is a living, breathing document that will continue to adapt as the situations warrant. United, we will work our plan and plan our work.

I want to take a moment to thank the many tourism professionals engaged with the project. Your time, input, and yes, courage, contributed to a vision that will bring a bit of joy back to people’s lives — and prosperity back to our states, partners, and region.

My best regards,

Chelsea Ruby
Commissioner, West Virginia Tourism & Chair
Travel South USA Board of Directors 
Travel South USA is proud to join 75 like-minded companies and organizations across the U.S. to support the Let’s Go There Coalition. The coalition formed when the U.S. Travel Association rallied all segments of America’s travel industry to prepare health and safety travel guidance to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Let’s Go There campaign’s mission follows the safety messages with the next step, and encourages Americans to dream about and plan a domestic travel experience when it is safe to do so.   

“Thanks to the U.S. Travel Association’s leadership, we can align with a campaign to get our industry back up on its feet and play a role in the recovery of America’s travel industry,” shared Travel South USA’s President and CEO, Liz Bittner. 

Travel South USA and state tourism offices have been part of the group providing feedback and guidance on the development of strategies, partnerships, and financial support. Ms. Bittner is serving her second term as an At-Large member of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, elected in 2017 and again in 2019. 

Set to launch September 8, 2020, the campaign includes three workstreams, paid media, earned media, and owned media/travel trade. We are asking for grassroots support of this call to action, using any and all channels available. Use the logo, share, retweet, and write op-eds. Let’s get some optimism back and start planning to travel in the South again — safely!

Look for more in the coming weeks as we move toward recovery and rebound of the billion-dollar industry we love!
Hurricane Laura Relief Fund for Hospitality Workers

The Travel South USA organization has a long history of contributing to our destinations when in need. We supported our friends in Mississippi & Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 with money, sweat equity, as well as complimentary registration to Domestic Showcase. Most recently, collecting monies during our Showcases and matched funds for the Gatlinburg TN CVB for the fires in 2019 and for Nashville/Davidson County TN for the tornadoes earlier this year. Once again, in the spirit of hospitality, the Travel South USA Board rallied to send a contribution for immediate relief to the Visit Lake Charles staff. We are now asking you to consider a donation to the following charity to help the community.

The Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) and Louisiana Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (LACVB) are partnering with the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation to raise funds to support hospitality industry workers affected by Hurricane Laura. 
On behalf of our 800+ LTA members and 33 LACVB members, we are constantly striving to strengthen Louisiana’s travel industry – and that need for support is never more evident than in the wake of a crisis. Hospitality workers from hotels, restaurants, CVBs, attractions, etc. all across the Southwestern areas of Louisiana and beyond who have lost homes and belongings, need assistance. 
We have seen first-hand the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation’s ability to quickly mobilize for emergency aid and provide crisis grants to those in need. Please join us in donating to this regional relief effort that will directly impact individuals from the travel industry. Our hope is for the travel industry to rally and help get this fund off the ground so that crisis grants can be awarded in the near future.  
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