Sally Ashworth rolls out the welcome mat


When Sally Ashworth joined Visit Lake Norman back in 2001, there were 12 hotels among the three towns of North Mecklenburg: Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville.,

Now there are 19 properties.

The most exciting news is the upcoming Republican National Convention, slated for August this year.

“We are planning and preparing for the single largest event the region will host in the Republican National Convention,” she said.

The convention will be held from Aug. 24 to 27 at the Spectrum Center eight years after the Democratic Convention was held in Charlotte.

Visit Lake Norman has grown in the past eight years.

The non-profit convention and visitors bureau has four full-time staff members and 22 volunteer ambassadors, all of whom will highlight the regions’ most sought after attractions to all attendees.

She oversees a budget of more than $800,000 generated from a percentage of the regions’ accommodations and prepared food and beverage taxes.

“We’ve been diligently working with the RNC Host Committee to ensure the Lake Norman region puts its most hospitable welcoming mat out for attendees, Ashworth said.

More than 15,000 members of the media will attend from around the world. Ashworth said it is an incredible opportunity to showcase the region to the world. Even after the RNC comes to a close, people around the world will have Charlotte on their minds.

Lake Norman has a lot to offer. While the lake is the “single most appealing attraction and the catalyst to binding the Lake Norman region together,” popular event venues include Birkdale Village, Davidson College and Bailey Road Park.

There’s abundant history: Rural Hill and Beaver Dam are two examples.

The relatively new public beach at Ramsey Creek Park is a top attraction as well. “It’s only the second public swim beach on the lake,” Ashworth says.

Sports tourism is popular attraction and Ashworth looks forward to the upcoming opening of the Community School of Davidson athletic campus.

“This state-of-the-art athletic campus will feature a stadium turf field, eight tennis courts, and one of the best track and fields in the state,” Ashworth said. “We are already working with them on two events later this year.”

While the regions’ oldest hotel, The Days Inn, closed last year, two new hotels are coming online next year.

Moreover, Ashworth said Lake Norman is the ideal place for a family reunion or conference.

“We have 10 hotels with meeting space, four of which with multiple meeting rooms,” Ashworth said.

“While it may not be large-scale meeting space, there are some ideal options for smaller to mid-size meeting groups. One distinguishing factor we have compared to some other destinations is lakefront meeting space,” she says.

Ashworth’s team relies on electronic media and visitors’ guides to coax out-of-town visitors to local attractions and to assist with all planning needs.


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