OCTOBER 22, 2009 ISSUE

Barbee Returns to Executive Director Post at High Country Host

Having run High Country Host from 1994 to 2000, Millie Barbee accepted her second invitation to fill the post on October 1. Barbee’s main priority will be to guide the tourism marketing organization through a restructuring brought on by the economic downturn. Photo submitted

A familiar face has returned to North Carolina High Country Host.

Millie Barbee, the Host’s executive director from 1994 to 2000, was named to that post for a second time on October 1.

Barbee retired from the Hickory Convention and Visitors Bureau three years ago and was residing in West Jefferson when this new opportunity presented itself. She will continue living in West Jefferson as she assumes the role held most recently by Karin Moss, who is now executive director of the Dale Earnhardt Foundation in Mooresville.

“I love being back,” Barbee said. “I always stayed in close touch with the organization and I have a great love for the High Country.”

Barbee will work three days a week. Her main priority will be to guide the tourism marketing organization through a restructuring brought on by the economic downturn.

“It is wonderful to be able to turn to Millie as we navigate these tough times,” said Jerry Lamonds, president of High Country Host. “She has experience in the job and a history of building consensus among our members. This is positive news as we begin to shine the spotlight on High Country tourism for the coming year.”

Looking ahead, Barbee plans to continue many primary functions of the Host, including producing an annual visitors guide, maintaining a website for tourist information, operating the visitor center in Boone and working with area tourism development authorities and chambers of commerce on advertising and marketing initiatives aimed at travelers. Barbee will also be involved with next year’s 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its marketing opportunities for the High Country.

“With the cooperation of the chambers and the TDAs, we have a wonderful opportunity to move forward in creative ways,” Barbee said. “There is such a wealth of knowledge in the tourism industry here. We have a lot of experience we can bring together to chart new directions.”

Barbee said it is important to promote all aspects of the High Country tourism industry, including lodging, shopping, restaurants, attractions, festivals, events, retail and outdoor fun.

“We’re seeing the early signs of improvement in the industry,” she said. “I think we’re at a turning point, but marketing has to be continuous. Our competition is strong.”

For more information on High Country Host, call 1-800-438-7500, or click to www.MountainsofNC.com.