Kristen Loflin is the tourism manager for the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina. She is responsible for all things tourism, including bringing groups to Onslow County to experience its natural beauty and many offerings.
Loflin talked with freelance writer Erin Albanese about Onslow County’s biggest draws — tapping into heritage, enjoying food, wine, and whiskey, and exploring places that brim with quaint coastal charm.
[dropcap]Q:[/dropcap] How would you describe your tours?
A: Onslow County is a beautiful and diverse county. Here, we have several ways to discover America while exploring every area of the county. Find your country through patriotism as you take a tour through military history at Lejeune Memorial Gardens and hear the story of the Montford Point Marines, the first African-American Marines. Visiting Onslow County will take you on a journey of our country’s military history from the past to the present. Find your country throughout our countryside with the Wine, Whiskey and Wonderful Eats tour. Taste and tour Onslow County’s family-owned distillery and vineyard. Lastly, find your country by discovering the coast’s beauty with a tour to Swansboro. This small, quaint town has local shops and restaurants for everyone.
[dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] What industry trends are you noticing?
A: Like at many destinations, it’s apparent that our visitors like experiences more than just a normal tour. The more interactive, the better. By having our storytellers — Onslow County representatives sharing the story of each attraction on tours — it helps visitors become a part of the story.
[dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] What are you most proud of about your organization?
A: We have come a long way. We are introducing new programs and developing products in hopes we can increase visitation further. Last year, we saw almost a 3 percent increase in direct tourist spending. I hope we can continue that progression. But I like to bring in visitors by adding value. We have assisted attractions in marketing by collaborating with partners throughout the county and we have started to see the results. A place has a story. It’s up to us to be effective storytellers.
[dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] What’s the next big thing for the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce?
A: Our next big thing is military-reunion recruitment. We are focusing on building products and marketing tools to assist reunions as they plan. The beauty of this initiative is that it also helps develop our group tours. Reunions love to discover the area in between meetings and banquets. Therefore, we are building two products at one time that both assist our mission.
For more information, call 910-347-3141 or visit jacksonvilleonline.org.
Article by Erin Albanese