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UPLIFT - Supporting Tourism in Rural North Carolina


Appalachian State University, NC Department of Commerce, NC Pandemic Relief Office, NC State University, US Economic Development Administration


Fall 2022-Ongoing


Supporting Community Driven Tourism in Rural North Carolina


The goal of UPLIFT NC is to support tourism to rural North Carolina communities. We do this by providing tourism practitioners and local leaders with the knowledge and resources to strengthen and connect tourism sites, services and businesses in targeted regions within the State. This includes natural, recreational, cultural, agricultural, culinary, built as well as other tourism experiences and services.


The UPLIFT NC program has six building blocks that together are the foundation for comprehensive and successful tourism in a region. This program is built on the NatureScapes UPLIFT framework. Each building block includes practical solutions that help to address a specific tourism need. As every location is different, the communities within each region is able to select which solutions match their tourism priorities and needs.


The UPLIFT NC building blocks include Understanding (tourism knowledge and context), Planning (participatory planning to know what a community wants to achieve with tourism and how to get there), Link (build local networks as well as connect tourism experiences and their stories through itineraries), Innovate (enhance the tourism experiences offered), Finance (connecting with, and accessing resources) and Tell (tell the story of the region to attract visitors) 

Planned Outcomes

  • Develop multi-night itineraries that connect sites within UPLIFT target regions to strengthen the overall tourism offer, retain visitors for longer, increase spending and make it easier for travelers to visit

  • Enhance, innovate and scale the tourism experiences offered within the regions, working with new and existing tourism providers

  • Strengthen tourism economies, skills and capacities that stimulate entrepreneurship, grow businesses and create or retain jobs

  • Tell the stories of the regions, their communities and individual tourism experiences to attract and retain visitors

  • Integrate sustainability principles & practices into the tourism experiences supported

Planned Results

  • 3M people reached

  • 200 businesses strengthened

  • 250 jobs created or secured

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