Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: John Wright, 202-208-6416
For Immediate Release: Feb. 25, 2004
Tom Adkinson, 615-327-1189
Federal Officials and Southeast Travel Industry
Join Forces to Promote Tourism on Public Lands

WASHINGTON- Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton announced that through an agreement signed today with the Southeast Tourism Society, a new partnership was formed to help promote tourism and enhance the visitor experience on America's public lands. The Memorandum of Understanding establishes the Southeast Tourism Policy Council, a unique public-private partnership that will work on issues that affect the future of travel and tourism in the Southeast.

"Today we join together as strong advocates with common goals in support of public lands and the economic viability of tourism," Norton said. "This council represents a significant step forward in providing new opportunities for our visitors to appreciate and enjoy the rich history and heritage of the southeast."

Federal agencies joining Secretary Norton in signing the MOU include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Army, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

"People in the travel industry in the Southeast are seen as true leaders because we know how to work together for the sake of the whole region," Bill Hardman, president of the Southeast Tourism Society said. "Not every region of the nation enjoys that spirit of cooperation. This council is a huge step in opening new channels of communications between the public and private sectors."

The Southeast Tourism Society is a premier regional organization that promotes travel and the development of tourism with emphasis on education, marketing and networking throughout the southeast United States. There are more than 500 members representing 11 southeastern states, members include travel professionals from state travel offices, attractions, resorts, convention and visitors' bureaus, chambers of commerce, airlines, car-rental agencies, travel publications and other travel related businesses. Member states include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Southeast Tourism Policy Council will provide leadership that ensures broad representation of tourism interests and will look to the future by promoting long-term use of public lands by future generations. The council will also promote public-lands stewardship by providing continuing education for the travel and tourism industry throughout the Southeast.

A photograph of today's signing ceremony is available on the Internet at:


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