At their Monday meeting, members of Franklin’s Tourism Development Authority and Macon County’s Tourism Development Commission came to an agreement on the features of a smart-phone application they jointly approved to fund last month.
The mobile application, or “app”, is designed to promote area businesses, events and attractions by providing visitors with information to plan their trips and guide them on tours of the mountain region while they are here. The app will include informative text, photos, videos, web links, phone links and GPS mapping locators.
Titled “Ugo Tour NC Mountains,” the app will be the first of its kind in North Carolina and free for all users.
Both tourism development boards, funded by county and town occupancy tax receipts, have agreed to pay $5,500 each to fund the endeavor, at a total cost of $11,000.
There was little debate among the boards, which quickly narrowed down the attractions and points of interest they determined to highlight in the mobile application. Nantahala River and Lake, Wayah Bald, gem mining, the Cowee Mound and Historic district, Coweeta Lab, Main Street Franklin, the Little Tennessee Greenway and Nikwasi Mound, the quilt trail and an overview of other Macon events and attractions are slated for the app.
“The official list of starting story points has not yet been solidified but there will definitely be a great representation of the sites and landmarks across the seven-county region,” said app developer Bryan Hughes, of Story Points Media.
So far, Macon, Swain, Graham and Haywood counties are officially on board with joining the tour app, while the Qualla Boundary and Cherokee and Jackson counties have only entered verbal agreements at this time. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has sponsored 20 different story points throughout the region so all 7 counties will be represented.
Hughes said that Story Points will begin the video making process for Macon and several other counties immediately. “I am pretty much booked all week talking to other counties about their story points,” said Hughes.
The Ugo Tour app’s launch party is tentatively set for the end of August.
The TDA also provided several grant seekers with advertising opportunities.
— Cindy Cavender approached the board requesting $4,000 and the use of two billboards to help promote Franklin’s third annual Mountain High BBQ and Music Festival. The TDA unanimously voted to grant the festival with $2,500 and the use of two billboards.
— Rob Gasbarro and Cory McCall, proprietors of downtown Franklin outfitters store Outdoor 76, presented to the board their plans of holding the first annual Outdoor Athlon event. Held at Cullasaja Park, just off of Fox Ridge Road in Franklin, the event promises to showcase outdoor activities and promote local entertainment. An outdoor triathlon, disc golf and ultimate Frisbee tournaments, outdoor sport clinics, hiking and kayaking demonstrations are among the many features at the event, which will resemble Asheville’s Mountain Sports Festival. The event will be held on Oct.8. TDA members concluded to allow the organizers to utilize their billboard advertising opportunities.
— Every year for the last three years on August 27, the Ruby Bash biker rally has been a charitable event held at the Macon County fairgrounds. Organizers Ronnie Smith and Karen Flowers requested of the board $2,000 to help fund the event, which they indicated brought motorcycle enthusiasts from afar to Franklin. However with the TDA in the early stages of planning a motorcycle rally next year on the same date, Smith and Flowers also had a message for the TDA. “Leave our weekend alone,” said Smith, asking TDA members to consider scheduling their 2012 rally to another part of the year. The TDA opted to encourage Smith and Flowers to utilize its billboard advertising, however did not grant the monetary request.