Southern Virginia Wild Blueway
In southern Virginia, along the border with North Carolina, the counties of Mecklenburg and Halifax are rich in history, agriculture and motor sports. Sites significant to Native American, Revolutionary War and Civil War history can be found across the region. Halifax is home to two race tracks and Virginia’s only Daytona 500 winner. In 2014, the counties joined forces to promote a decidedly slower mode of transportation — paddling on their rivers and lakes.
Our team saw two opportunities to differentiate this blueway from other paddling trails. First, the total number of miles of navigable river combined with the many miles of shoreline on the two lakes means that the blueway can appeal to paddlers and fishermen of every ability level. Energetic paddlers may choose to cover a greater distance while others prefer to spend the day fishing in a quiet cove.
The second observation was that a significant portion of the river mileage was designated Virginia Scenic River and much of the shoreline of Kerr Lake is undeveloped. Visitors will see more forest and wildlife than roads and homes. The extensive and undisturbed natural beauty that allows visitors to enjoy a multi-day trip that includes fishing, camping and wildlife viewing including seeing bald eagles and osprey, inspired the name Southern Virginia Wild Blueway.
With the vital differentiators in mind, we developed a brand identity for the blueway, followed by a content-rich website that offers more than just trip-planning advice. The site contains safety and conservation information to encourage boaters to leave the rivers and lakes just as pristine as they found them. It also connects visitors to dining, lodging and other activities to enjoy while in the region.
The offices of tourism in both counties hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony that generated great media coverage. They are also spreading the word through social media and a modest advertising program. A brochure and rack card have been developed and traffic to the website has increased steadily thanks to consistent marketing.
Mikula-Harris approached this very difficult project with confidence and calm resolve. The Southern Virginia region has traditionally lacked a clear regional marketing identity, so they really were starting from scratch. They collaborated tirelessly with our group of 15 stakeholders, offered critical advice, and worked within a shifting and uncertain budget to create an impactful campaign that our stakeholders, businesses, local governments and region have really embraced. We are excited to see what will come next.
— JUSTIN KERNS, Tourism Coordinator for Mecklenburg County
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