At least 50 members of a travel writers group are scheduled to arrive in Fort Wayne today for a nearly weeklong sightseeing excursion.
Local tourism officials hope their five-day visit will convince members of the Midwest Travel Journalists Association that the city has plenty of places worth telling thousands of their readers about.
Visit Fort Wayne said local officials and businesses will share dozens of story ideas with the writers, expecting that to bring increased regional and national exposure.
Participating writers will come from publications including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today Network, The Restaurateur, Toronto Globe & Mail, AAA Midwest Explorer, Pathfinders Travel Magazine, Long Weekend, and Home & Away Magazine. Online sites represented include GroupTour.com and TripSavvy.com.
The number was still fluctuating midweek, but Visit Fort Wayne’s Kristen Guthrie said the group could include up to 60 people. Members include some representatives from destination marketing organizations such as Visit Fort Wayne.
Over the last few years, the city has hosted several writers that “led to big wins for Fort Wayne in the national media,” said Guthrie, vice president of marketing and communication for the local tourism agency.
Midwest Travel Journalists Association members will start this afternoon with lunch on The Landing, using a voucher valid at six restaurants located there. The downtown strip on West Columbia Street is notably less busy during cooler weather but becomes an entertainment hotspot on some summer nights with live music drawing crowds.
A “Go List” article this year on Fodors.com includes a description of The Landing under the headline “What’s old is new again in this friendly Midwest town.”
“The Landing is a one-block neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne and one of the oldest commercial districts in Indiana, home to the city’s first hotel, post office, theater, and railway station, all built in the 19th century,” the article said. “Today, it’s the epicenter of a riverfront revitalization project incorporating public art, shops, a coffee roaster, brewery, and a half dozen new restaurants. There’s a young, new energy and plenty to eat and drink in what’s become Fort Wayne’s new food district.”
The same Go List featured venues worth a look in other areas, including Chicago’s North Shore; Cincinnati; and Door County, Wisconsin.
While in Fort Wayne, the travel journalists will experience other highlights including downtown walking tours and a visit to the Electric Works campus, a multimillion-dollar mixed-used development that is transforming a former General Electric property. An “Active Riverfront Immersive Experience” is scheduled, which includes an opportunity for kayaking or biking the trails. Trips to musical instrument and equipment retailer Sweetwater Sound and to the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library are also on the itinerary.
Optional evening activities include a TinCaps baseball game at Parkview Field and a Canvas and Cocktails with artist/muralist Theoplis Smith III, also known as Phresh Laundry. The conference wraps up Tuesday with a breakfast with local business executive Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley and part owner of The Bradley boutique hotel.
“Visit Fort Wayne budgeted some money to produce this event, but we have been overwhelmed with the community partners who have stepped up with financial and in-kind support,” said Guthrie, vice president of marketing and communication for Visit Fort Wayne. She didn’t disclose Visit Fort Wayne’s budget for hosting the event.