Skip to content

Tourism Council

The Highland Tourism Council works closely with the Highland County Chamber of Commerce on the goals and objectives set out in the Tourism Strategic Plan that was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2014. They advise on all marketing initiatives and funds allocated through the Transient Occupancy Tax from Highland County and Town of Monterey lodging facilities.

The five-member Council is a subcommittee of the Economic Development Authority of Highland County.  It is made up of five volunteers who represent various tourism interests in the county and consists of a member of the EDA or their designee, a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board, a representative of the lodging businesses, and two members at large who represent tourism interests of the county.

The mission of the Council, as outlined in the Tourism Strategic Plan, is to stimulate targeted tourism initiatives that will promote economic development and population growth in Highland County while protecting and enriching the quality of life for its residents.

Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce, also serves as Executive Director of the Tourism Council.

The 2021 Council members include:

Marty Leech – Chair (Chamber of Commerce Board Member):

Patti Reum – Secretary (Lodging Representative):

Deborah Ellington – Treasurer (Lodging Representative):

Christoph Herby – Tourism Council Member:

Bryan Obaugh – EDA Member Representative:


The Highland Tourism Council meets at The Highland Center's Event Room in Monterey (61 Highland Center Drive) at 7 pm during the second Monday of the month, accompanied by a virtual Zoom option.  The login information for the Zoom meetings is listed below.  Please contact Executive Director Chris Swecker at or call 540-468-2550 for the meeting information if it is not listed below. Any member of the public who is interested in finding out more about the Council is welcome and encouraged to attend these monthly meetings.

For in-person meetings, The Highland Tourism Council will be following current Virginia and CDC guidelines regarding the coronavirus for everyone’s safety, which recommend that all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people wear a mask and practice social distancing in public settings.  Please stay home if you have a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, if you have had a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19, if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or if you have had known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days.  If you become aware of being diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending a meeting, please contact or 540-468-2550 in order to evaluate next steps.

Highland Tourism Council Meetings Zoom Login Information:
Every month on the second Monday:

•  Dec 13, 2021 07:00 PM
•  Jan 10, 2022 07:00 PM
•  Feb 14, 2022 07:00 PM
•  Mar 14, 2022 07:00 PM
•  Apr 11, 2022 07:00 PM
•  May 9, 2022 07:00 PM
•  Jun 13, 2022 07:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 981 5889 8209
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,98158898209# US (New York)
+13017158592,,98158898209# US (Washington DC)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 981 5889 8209
Find your local number:

Marketing Assistance Program

The Highland Tourism Council has designed the Highland Tourism Marketing Assistance Program to stimulate new tourism initiatives or assist in the growth of existing programs or events through the creation of tourism partnerships. The objective of this program is to leverage the limited marketing dollars obtained through the Transient Occupancy Tax, resulting in increased visitor spending, revenue, and jobs within the county.

The 2021 Marketing Assistance Program is now open!  Applications will be accepted through December 6, 2021 and be reviewed during the December monthly meeting of the Tourism Council. Funds will be granted in January of 2022.
Please click here for full details and to view and download the application.


Two organizations received funding from the 2020 Marketing Assistance Program.

The Highland County VA Blog, ran by Dorothy Stephenson of Sundance Media and Design, is awarded $2,200 to their efforts to market Highland County, focusing on compensating local writers and photographers to be featured in future blog posts. Starting in 2020, this privately-owned blog at is devoted to Highland County’s community, history, attractions, beauty and blessings. "I'm so very thankful and appreciative to receive this grant!” says Dorothy. “I'm excited to team up with local writers and photographers who can help with further quality content development, allowing me more time to digitally promote this online publication about our beloved Highland County."

The Highland Historical Society is awarded $800 for marketing of the 100th Anniversary of the 1921 classic silent film, Tol’able David. Executive Director of the Society, Lori Botkin, will utilize the funds to create a driving tour brochure of the sites that were filmed in Highland County and featured in the movie, most of which look the same today as they did back then. The brochure will be in addition to other marketing efforts by the Society, which include advertising and an expanded display at the Mansion House in McDowell. The Mansion House plans to open in May. Lori says, "I am so excited about launching the new Tol'able David exhibit, celebrating 100 years since the movie was filmed. Thanks to the Highland Tourism Council for the grant to help make this possible."


Need help with writing grants?  Check out free SCORE counseling at


TOP: Lori Botkin,
Executive Director of the Highland Historical Society, and the
Tol'able David display

BOTTOM: Excerpt of the

(click each to enlarge)

December 12, 2019 Online Marketing Workshop

The Highland County Tourism Council partnered with Virginia Community Capital to present a free workshop focused on helping small businesses learn about resources, opportunities, technology and more to promote their business in this century on December 12, 2019 at The Highland Center.  Thank you to all who attended!

The event was live-streamed on Facebook.  In case you missed it or want to watch it again, you can view the full presentation at:

In addition, you can view and download a pdf file of the full PowerPoint presentation here: VCC Online Marketing Presentation B&W

More resources:

Scroll To Top