5 things you probably don’t know about Visit Winston-Salem

Forsyth County’s tourism bureau promotes amenities to visitors. Its work also benefits residents.

Brick building with wooden double doors and red awning. A "visitor center" sign is above a magazine stand on the left side of the doors. A lantern with a "Visit Winston-Salem" sign is on the right side.

The Visitor Center is located at 200 Brookstown Ave.

Photo courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem

Visit Winston-Salem is responsible for telling visitors what we already know — the Twin City is the place to be. Conventions, events, and sports tournaments attract about 200,000 visitors to Forsyth County annually. In total, visitors spend nearly a billion dollars at local businesses, supporting 6,200 jobs and generating $68 million in state and local taxes.

City Editor Cambridge sat down with Visit Winston-Salem’s President Stephanie Pace Brown to talk about the tourism bureau’s mission. Here are five other things you might not know about the work the agency does.

Visit Winston-Salem promotes all of Forsyth County

Don’t let the name fool you, Visit Winston-Salem works on behalf of the whole county. Brown says it comes down to branding — including the city’s name makes it easier for visitors to distinguish between our area and other Forsyth Counties nationwide.

Three people in aprons stand in front of a wall with a "Hot now Winston-Salem" neon sign. The middle person is holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Visit Winston-Salem team members represent everything sweet about Forsyth County.

Photo courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem

Visit Winston-Salem exists to help local businesses + residents

The tourism bureau is focused on attracting overnight visitors to Forsyth County. That expands the customer base for local businesses and generates taxes to provide services for residents. Nonprofit and governmental events can apply for direct funding support through the Arts and Events Marketing Assistance (AEMA) Program.

“Visit Winston-Salem’s public purpose is to benefit the people who live here,” Brown said. “Our purpose is not to benefit the people who visit — we serve them and our job is to attract them to our city — but the beneficiaries of our work are the local community members.”

Visitors fund Visit Winston-Salem’s work

People who stay overnight in the Twin City pay a hotel tax + a room occupancy tax. About 61% of that revenue is dedicated to funding Visit Winston-Salem’s operations (the rest is distributed to municipal government).

Big events + promotions don’t happen by accident

A big part of what 16 full-time staff members do is build relationships with groups hosting events. They also coordinate bids with local hotels + find amenities and services to entice groups to choose the Twin City. The bureau is involved with signature events like Gears and Guitars, the Winston-Salem Open, and the International Black Theatre Festival. Staff members are also in charge of advertising and media relations.

“When people see a story in Garden and Gun or Southern Living or any other national publication, that’s because our team has reached out to writers across the country and helped to bring them into town to experience a destination and then generate that coverage,” Brown said.

A crowd of people in purple light is standing looking at a stage on the left side. The Winston-Salem building is in the background.

Annual events like Gears and Guitars attract visitors to Forsyth County to support local businesses, create jobs, and generate tax revenue.

Photo courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem

You can get connected

Businesses can list their businesses for free on Visit Winston-Salem’s website and staff can connect entrepreneurs with networking opportunities + educational events. Brown says the best way to support their work is to get out and enjoy the community.

“I feel like Winston-Salem has retained a personality that makes it really unique and distinctive,” Brown said. " I really think that’s a big part of what makes it a special place to visit — is connecting with the locals and connecting with the people who call Winston-Salem home.”