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Tourism director leaving for Oregon

081717Rehklau

Christina Rehklau

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Elizabeth City’s tourism office will be seeking a new leader following the resignation of its current director.

Christina Rehklau, director of the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Wednesday she's leaving to work in Corvallis, Oregon, where she will be the executive director of the private nonprofit group Visit Corvallis.

“It's hard for me to leave,” Rehklau said. “I'm going to miss Elizabeth City.”

In taking a position she considers a “lateral move,” Rehklau said she's relocating so she and her husband, Nick Oszaczky, can be closer to his family, including his mother.

Rehklau, an Ohio native and previously a research manager for the Virginia Tourism Corp., took over as director of the Elizabeth City CVB in late summer 2015. She replaced Charlotte Underwood, who retired.

Rehklau said she's proud of strengthening Elizabeth City's marketing, especially online. When she started, the tourism office had 550 Facebook followers, and now it has 16,655, she said.

Rehklau also said she's worked to promote Elizabeth City from a visitor's perspective, citing its ideal location between numerous attractions, whether in Pasquotank or not. She cited the Dismal Swamp State Park in Camden as an example. Tourism and economic development officials also cite Elizabeth City's proximity to the Outer Banks and Tidewater Virginia as reasons to visit and stay.

Going forward, Rehklau encouraged the tourism office to continue promoting the area as a commercial and regional hub. She also said web traffic analysis had shown a lot of interest in Elizabeth City from the Raleigh area, and she encouraged more outreach there.

The CVB and its director are overseen by the Tourism Development Authority. TDA Chairwoman Rhonda Twiddy praised Rehklau’s work on Wednesday, and explained the authority hopes to find a new director to keep momentum going for the area.

“I feel she did a great job,” Twiddy said of Rehklau, praising the outgoing director for raising the area’s profile and strengthening its marketing.

Twiddy also said the TDA has formed a search committee from among its members, including herself and Andy Montero as co-chairs, plus Maureen Donnelly and, as an alternate, Arthur McPherson III.

Twiddy said the TDA plans to advertise the position nationally for about 30 days, and decide on next steps based on the applications it receives. She hoped for strong applicants, citing increased interest in the region and its growing collection of attractions, including natural, cultural and commercial.

Like Rehklau, Twiddy said it’s important to continue marketing Elizabeth City’s location as a hub — and to market it as a “great place to be at any age.” More than trying to attract one-time visitors, the CVB aims to convince people Elizabeth City is where they should live, she said.

Twiddy also said the TDA has studied the salaries of its employees, and will advertise a salary range for the next director.

Rehklau said Wednesday her ending salary was about $59,000; she started at $55,000.

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