Tourism on upswing in Cleveland
by By GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Nov 23, 2012 | 1053 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melissa Woody
Melissa Woody
Visitors to the Cleveland and Bradley County community bring $112 million to the local economy, according to Melissa Woody, vice president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

Woody spoke to members of MainStreet Cleveland Monday, providing information about tourism and how she goes about luring visitors to travel to the area rich in Cherokee and Civil War history.

Woody explained how Bradley County’s tourist industry has been in an “upward” trend while many counties have fallen short or been in negative numbers when it comes to tourism.

“I have had the privilege, for the past 13 years, of promoting my hometown,” she said.

“We have seen a positive growth rate in tourism and ... showed the second largest increase in the state during 2010-11. During that time, we had a 13.1 percent increase in visitors,” Woody added.

There are plentiful ways and resources available to market the area, Woody asserted.

According to Woody, 50,000 requests for information were filled last year about the events, trails, heritage and other historical attractions.

“I have to do a lot with a little,” Woody said.

Through brochures and other marketing media, Woody aids in her “product development” strategy to draw people to the area.

“Our product is our events or historical sites,” Woody said.

The Trail of Tears, Charleston Heritage project and the Civil War trail are among Woody’s “products” she markets.

She told a fraction of the story of Lewis Ross of Charleston and his brother John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokee nation, which was based at Red Clay, then the organization and removal of the Cherokee along the infamous Trail of Tears.

“This is real history,” Woody said, “We are sitting in what used to be the Cherokee nation and you had to have a passport to enter.”

“We want to share this and the Civil War stories with our visitors,” she added.

Bradley County and Cleveland are on the Civil War, Tanasi, Quilt, Gospel Music, Gloryland and Art trails.