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Paddling Photo: L-R: Enjoying a paddling excursion with Delmarva Board Sport Adventures are, from left: Stephanie Puglisi, Kim Foley MacKinnon, Sigrid Pichler, Caitlin Chaney, Jen Boes and Cathy Bennett Kopf.

Southern Delaware Tourism (SDT) was selected to host one of two meetings this spring of the Eastern Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). The meeting was held at the Hyatt Place Dewey Beach on June 6-9.

In their first in-person meeting since 2019, 17 SATW members, including 12 travel writers, attended the three-day event, which included a full day of professional development featuring a panel of Culinary Coast restaurateurs and marketers discussing why and how Delaware has become such a foodie paradise, as well as what’s new and upcoming.

The day also featured Stephanie Puglisi, head of content for Roadtrippers and Togo RV, presenting the keynote, as well as talks by Mark Carter, director of Beer & Benevolence for Dogfish Head, and Jim Rapp, owner and guide for Delmarva Birding Weekends.

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The Culinary Coast panel included, from left: Scott Kammerer of SoDel Concepts; Josh Grapski of La Vida Hospitality; Lana O’Hollaren of Southern Delaware Tourism; and Susan Ryan of Good Earth Market & Restaurant.

Scott Kammerer, president of SoDel Concepts; Susan Ryan, founder and owner of Good Earth Market; Josh Grapski, managing partner of La Vida Hospitality; and Lana O’Hollaren, marketing manager for Southern Delaware Tourism, made up the panel discussing Southern Delaware’s Culinary Coast. Delaware writer Pam George moderated the panel.

The day also featured a Marketplace where tourism partners including the Lewes Chamber of Commerce, the Western Sussex Chamber of Commerce, Delaware State Parks, Southern Delaware Tourism, Delmarva Birding Weekends, Dogfish Head and Hyatt Place Dewey Beach discussed their offerings one-on-one with the writers in attendance.

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Members of the media in attendance at the SATW Eastern Chapter Meeting gather information from Southern Delaware tourism partners.

Following the day’s events at Hyatt Place, the writers each attended one of four activities designed to familiarize them with some of Southern Delaware’s outdoor offerings. They attended hosted tours including a bicycle tour of Gordons Pond Trail courtesy of Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, an eco-tour along the Lewes Rehoboth Canal with Cape Water Tours, a kayaking tour on Rehoboth Bay with Delmarva Board Sport Adventures, and a birding tour with Delmarva Birding Weekends owner Jim Rapp at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, Delaware State Parks provided complimentary admission to the writers during the duration of the meeting, and Seagreen Bicycle in Rehoboth Beach and Lewes provided complimentary bike rentals on Tuesday.

SDT Culinary Coast restaurant partners La Vida Hospitality, The Starboard, SoDel Concepts and Dogfish Head provided gift cards for attendees to use for meals during the self-guided tour portions of the meetings. Dogfish Head provided gift bags, and Tanger Outlets contributed totes and backpacks to be presented to the writers upon check in, which were filled with information and materials about Southern Delaware and some additional welcome-gifts from Southern Delaware Tourism.

“It was a great meeting,” said Scott Thomas, executive director of Southern Delaware Tourism. “Many of the travel writers — who write for some top-notch outlets — hadn’t visited Southern Delaware before and expressed genuine surprise at just how much Southern Delaware has to offer visitors, that we’re definitely not just another East Coast beach destination. We expect to see some excellent media coverage for Sussex County in the near future as a result of this meeting.”

“We’d especially like to offer a special thanks to SATW for selecting Southern Delaware to host this meeting, to Hyatt Place Dewey Beach for working with SATW and SDT to provide such welcoming accommodations and fabulous hospitality, and to the many tourism partners whose collaboration made this meeting possible and so successful,” he added. “Their support was key to the success of this event.”

Southern Delaware Tourism supports and encourages the identification, development and promotion of sustainable, year-round tourism in Southern Delaware that contributes to economic growth and improves the quality of life. For more information, call Southern Delaware Tourism at (302) 856-1818 or visit their website at www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com.