December 2018
Steamboat’s a-coming!!! Delta Queen on track for renewed service
After a decade in limbo, the historic Delta Queen steamboat is poised to return to passenger service on America’s inland waterways, including to ports such as Nashville, Louisville, Paducah, Natchez, New Orleans and Charleston, W.Va. The vessel, made partly of wood, was sidelined in 2008 after losing an exemption from maritime safely regulations. Legislative relief efforts have gone on for years.

Federal legislation once again allowing the Delta Queen to operate passed in the late days of the current congressional session and has been signed into law. U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., called passage “the culmination of years of hard work and bipartisan, bicameral cooperation to preserve a piece of American history.” Both Missouri senators – Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt – co-sponsored the legislation.

Homeport for the Delta Queen, which is a national historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be Kimmswick, Mo., 25 miles downriver from St. Louis. Its previous homeport was Cincinnati. Renovations costing between $10 million and $12 million will be done in Houma, La. They include new boilers and work on electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning systems.

The riverboat’s owners are already planning trips of three, five and seven days, starting in 2020 on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, Kanawha, Arkansas and Illinois rivers, according to Cornel Martin, president and CEO of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. The Delta Queen was built in California in 1927 and operated as a ferry before being used by the U.S. Navy in World War II. It moved to the inland waterways in 1948. Background is here.
North Carolina fir is official White House Christmas tree
There’s a big piece of Southern greenery in the White House because the residence’s official Christmas tree came from Mountain Top Fraser Fir, a tree farm in Newland, N.C. The farm was chosen in a national contest of the National Christmas Tree Association, which has provided the official White House tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966.

The N.C. Christmas Tree Association reports that the state produces more than 20 percent of the real Christmas trees in the United States. North Carolina Fraser firs are shipped to all 50 states and internationally from approximately 1,300 growers.
STS Helps Amplify Voice of Macon Tourism Leaders
An op-ed inspired by Southeast Tourism Society advocacy efforts could be one of the final messages that earns passage of legislation to transform Georgia’s Ocmulgee National Monument into the Ocmulgee National Historical Park.

STS advocacy advisor Halle Czechowski worked with Gary Wheat of Visit Macon and Kyle Lee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on the column for The Macon Telegraph, noting that it is one more example of how STS can help amplify a community’s advocacy voice. More information about efforts by STS is in the STS Advocacy Resource Center at
PR exec sums up value of networking: ‘Your Network Is Your Net Worth’ 

Networking is a pillar of Southeast Tourism Society, but sometimes that vital business activity is a bit difficult to explain, much less quantify. Public relations agency owner Nancy Marshall examined networking in a Forbes column and found her networking roots were in summer camp.

“Summer camp taught me a lot about life. I learned that being a team player was better than being a loner. I also learned that the more you help others, the more you get back,” she wrote, before giving away her tips for professional networking in this column.
Network in 2019: Register today for Connections
Parts of travel industry look to a world without plastic

The amount of plastic in the world economy is staggering, and some leaders in the travel industry are looking for ways to reduce the industry’s use voluntarily – before legislation mandates change. One organization, Travel Without Plastic , has the goal of preventing one billion single-use plastic items (think straws, cups, miniature shampoo bottles) from entering the global waste stream.

For a look at the situation, here’s a piece from The Washington Post travel section, and for basic information about practical steps for businesses to take, contact Tom Rhodes at NC GreenTravel (919-707-8140).
Keeping up with short-term rentals

How governments deal with the short-term rental (STR) industry – companies such as Airbnb and VRBO – is an evolving situation. Here are some updates that may provide guidance for destinations trying to inform themselves about what others are doing.

  • A year after passing legislation, Seattle now has regulations for STR operators. A summary is here.
  • Gulf Shores, Ala., launched an agreement with Airbnb last month through which Airbnb collects and remits a 7 percent tax on STRs. The firm said Gulf Shores is its most popular Alabama destination.
  • Maui is trying to steer visitors away from illegal STRs and to patronize legal accommodations on the island. This is one part of a 10-year tourism strategic plan, according to the Maui News.
  • Meanwhile in Florida, Airbnb is suing Palm Beach County because the county says Airbnb should report STR hosts that are not collecting the required 6 percent bed tax. Details are here.
A quote to note

We are very heartened to see the high level of interest from the Gen Z market Rosanna Maietta, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, commenting on a report showing more than 50 percent of Gen Z, the largest generation in the U.S., is interested in hospitality industry careers .