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The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission has approved a funding request for airfare and lodging for nine Georgia-based journalists to visit El Dorado on a tour of attractions around Arkansas.

The funding request came from Bob Tarren, chief marketing officer of MAD, acting as a point person for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. The request was for airfare and lodging for nine journalists from Georgia who plan to visit El Dorado, along with other cities in the state.

Tarren became familiar with the journalists at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, which was held in late May through early June. He attended with Griffin Restaurant chef Austin Johnson and representatives from Arkansas Tourism, Visit Bentonville and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We all collaborated to make a great presentation over the couple of days of the [festival], including a special media day where the media got to meet the chefs, taste the food and talk to restaurateurs, and also talk to Tourism about the Natural State,” Tarren said. “About 50 plus media attended and expressed some interest and when we put together this particular media tour, inviting media to come and have an experience, nine said that will work with their schedules.”

Tarren’s funding request included a $3,700 ask for airfare and lodging for the journalists. After some discussion, the commission voted unanimously to fund the request out of their administration budget line.

“Thank y’all very much for asking the difficult questions. I know it’s not easy, and we appreciate your support,” said Pam Griffin, president and chief operating officer of MAD.

The tour will bring nine Georgia-based journalists for a tour of Arkansas, with stops in El Dorado, Little Rock and Bentonville. The writers and their publications include Liz and John Attaway of “Adventures in Atlanta;” Latoicha Andino of “Luxe Tips;” Noah Anderson and Kelly Donovan of “Georgia on My Dime;” Serena Hale of “God 4 B and Me;” Mary Ann Kaylor of “Grubs and Grooves;” Denise Romeo of “Dining Out Atlanta;” Kwame Ofosu of “Ask Wame;” Sharronda Williams of “Pay Or Wait;” Natalie Gomes of “Cooking Quidnunc;” and writer Kiwi the Beauty.

Tarren said the writers will use their experiences in Arkansas to produce content for their various publications. The hope is that having writers from outside the state share information about Arkansas with their readers, interest in our state may spike.

“The purpose is writers will come, experience different parts of Arkansas and use it as content in their publications, in their blogs, in their online magazines,” Tarren said. “Often, these are travel and lifestyle combination pieces, where they’ll say ‘if you live in Georgia, or you live in the South, a good weekend trip would be to visit Arkansas, and if you go you should visit this restaurant in Bentonville, this restaurant in Little Rock, this restaurant in El Dorado.’”

The funds provided by the A&P Commission will cover one-third of the writers’ airfare and lodging for the two days they are in El Dorado. Tarren said they will visit attractions in El Dorado like MAD, the South Arkansas Arts Center, South Arkansas Community College and maybe even Spudnuts.

“There’s different approaches that these different writers will take and the benefit is that exposure leads to awareness, which leads to visitation,” Tarren said.

The writers will be in El Dorado Oct. 24-26.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

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