(WVEC) -- What’s in a name? According to businesses in Hampton Roads - everything.
This week local leaders of the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry gathered for the Coastal Virginia Hospitality Expo. They said one way to attract more visitors may be to change the name Hampton Roads.
“We want people to come here, and see us, and buy our fudge and if that means changing the name then we are definitely about that,” said Abby Johnson, of the Fudgery at Waterside. “If we were to include something like the coast or the beach maybe people would be more involved or want to come if that was part of the name.”
Rebecca Raab is visiting Portsmouth for a work conference. When she found out the area was called Hampton Roads she didn’t know what to think.
“Well when I think about the Outer Banks you immediately picture it in your head and on the map and then you think about the Crystal Coast in South Carolina,” said Raab.
Legend Brewing Depot, of Portsmouth, admits the name Hampton Roads doesn’t exactly scream fun or beauty or beach to strangers of the area.
“When I think about Hampton Roads the only thing I think about that combines all the cities, the interstate system, and I guess when you think about it that way it’s not really sexy or draws you in,” said Legend manager Chrissy Covington-Goulart.
One of the suggested name changes is Coastal Virginia, but life-long residents aren’t so ready to just give up decades of tradition.
“I like Hampton Roads, I’ve grown up with it and I know it is affiliated with naval might, superiority, that’s Hampton Roads to me,” said Doug Simpson.
Then there is Michael Fitzgerald, of the Norfolk Tap Room. He said 30 percent of his customers are from out of town. He’d love to double that number but he doesn’t think a name change is the answer.
“I just think there are other things you can do in the area other than changing the name to increase tourism,” said Fitzgerald. “I don’t think we do enough individual marketing of what the cities actually have to offer.”