The Newport News Tourism office has relocated from a suite on the third floor of Fountain Plaza Two to a ground-level storefront space on Town Center Drive in City Center at Oyster Point. The move to its new space gives visitors another resource for information about Newport News, in addition to the city’s official state-certified Visitor Center, located at the entrance to Newport News Park.
The tourism office administrative coordinators market Newport News to a variety of groups and wanted to make their offices very appealing and easily accessible for meeting planners, tour operators, industry representatives, the media, visitors and residents.
The décor and furnishings for the new space were selected to reflect the modern, yet industrial city of Newport News. Paint hues of blue-gray and pewter, massive dark beams that replicate railway ties, a mixture of light and dark woods, steel, aluminum and copper can be found throughout the space. Located along all of the hallways of the office is a most attractive and eye-catching feature illustrating a historical timeline, tracing the city’s history from the 1600s to present day. Although the tourism office came up with the content for the timeline, Hampton Roads Engraving made it come to life along with a map of Virginia in the office conference room and the wall of words when you first walk in.
All of the individual offices are themed and decorated differently with paintings and/or pictures of Newport News in each, many of which are photos that were taken during the annual Zoom in on Newport News Photo Contest. One office reflects annual events such as Hollydazzle and the Fall Festival of Folklore, while others are themed to showcase the city’s arts & sculptures, breathtaking sunsets, landmarks and prestine parks.
On December 2, Newport News Parks, Recreation & Tourism will host its 14th annual Hollydazzle holiday event, a free family event with activities and entertainment culminating in fireworks at the end of the night. “If you’ve never been, it’s a spectacular light show at the end… it’s pretty amazing,” shares Cindy Brouillard, director of tourism. In recent years, Hollydazzle has opened earlier in the afternoon on the day of the event to provide more opportunity for the 40,000 people it attracts to enjoy the festivities.
Hollydazzle has attracted tour groups from across the country. One year, a tour and travel group from California based their tour of the region around Hollydazzle. A group of senior citizens signed up for a sort of mystery tour—one where they did not know the destination region ahead of time. They were pleased to be able to participate in Hollydazzle before touring the rest of the surrounding region.
The tourism arm of the Parks and Recreation Department’s main job is to “spread the word” to the general public as well as to people outside the region. The department employs full-time staff who focus on marketing, especially social marketing. Brouillard explains, “The #1 resource for travelers is the website so we put a lot of effort into that.”
Brouillard has been with the tourism arm of the department since it was created in 1995. Right out of college, she jumped into the hotel business and worked in Hampton doing banquets, catering and eventually became director of sales and marketing. But after 13 years, Brouillard had two daughters and decided to take a break from the hotel business with its demanding schedule. She moved toward working for the regional tourism bureau, which included Hampton. Before the city put Newport News Tourism under the Department of Parks and Recreation, the office was located at Christopher Newport University.
When Brouillard isn’t marketing Newport News, she loves boating, arts and crafts, and spending time with her Springer Spaniel. It’s no surprise that working in the tourism industry, she also loves to vacation and travel to different places.
“I love the hotel business, and this is part of it because we promote hotels, attractions, everything—it’s more overall than specific, and it’s all tourism,” says Brouillard.
Ahead for Newport News Tourism in 2018 is to continue promoting the regional Toast the Coast beer, wine and shine trail and to begin marketing the biking trails, featuring those trails on an interactive map online.
In addition, the tourism team will market and promote Hilton Village’s 100th anniversary and the 2019 Commemoration, a sub-agency of the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation that was created by the General Assembly to plan programs and activities under the brand American Evolution. Its Digital Trail will bring awareness of selected sites to tourists that reflect diversity and opportunity from 1619 to today.
And what’s the best part of Brouillard’s position? “The best thing is the people I work with—not only in the city, but in the industry,” she says. “It’s a great group of creative people. It’s fun to be able to use creative ability in marketing different things and to work with all kinds of people. It’s a people business, for sure!”
TO THE POINT
Newport News Tourism Development Office
Address: 702 Town Center Dr., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Cindy Brouillard, director of tourism