The North American Travel Journalists Association is bringing its annual conference to Orange County next week.

From May 16-19, more than 80 journalists, presenters and industry leaders will be in town. The conference will take place at the Sheraton Chapel Hill, but attendees will also have the chance to experience the best of Orange County – including tours of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, samples from local restaurants and breweries, and more.

Here’s what the conference website has to say about Orange County.

The conference was a major get for the local tourism industry. NATJA officials announced Orange County as the site last year – but nearly pulled out amidst the firestorm over HB2. Their decision to stay could mean a major boost for local tourism: Orange County Visitors Bureau sales director Marlene Barbera says the conference itself gets millions of impressions on social media, and that’s not counting the articles attendees will likely write afterward highlighting our area.

Marlene Barbera spoke this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is hosting the conference in partnership with Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, UNC, and Orange County, along with state organizations like Visit North Carolina. Speakers include local authors D.G. Martin and Daniel Wallace, numerous UNC professors, and OCVB executive director Laurie Paolicelli.

For more information about NATJA and the upcoming conference, visit