North Carolina is launching a $3 million tourism campaign aimed at promoting the state's unique sights.
One of its big goals is also capitalizing on Charlotte' Democratic National Convention in September.
"It's a world stage and we certainly want to take advantage of that, and make sure we have the right message... to make sure we get the folks as they're learning about Charlotte," said Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
As well as focusing on other cities and towns around the state, the campaign is aimed at establishing Charlotte as a must-see city, on par with Las Vegas or New York City.
"Anybody in the country who hasn't visited Charlotte is making a mistake if they think New York is better," Gov. Bev Perdue said.
North Carolina ranks sixth among the 50 states in number of visitors, but the state's marketing budget ranks 27th.
Lynn Minges, the Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Marketing, and Global Branding for the N.C. Department of Commerce, said they are trying to do more with less. She said the key component is highlighting what tourists can get in North Carolina -- and North Carolina alone. Minges said that's what will also keep them coming back.
"Historically our campaigns has been pretty generic," Minges said. "This campaign, I think, is different for us because it's very specific. We're going to be showcasing those very unique places all across North Carolina that visitors can experience only here."
But Charlotte is probably best known for being a commercial center, and some travel experts said it faces challenges in attracting tourists who aren't coming for conventions.
Gary Silverstein, who has owned and run Mann Travels for more than 30 years, said marketing Charlotte as a must-see destination on its own is difficult.
"I'd love for us to get our share, but I'm not sure what we have that's so unique," he said. "I'm not sure what's going to be the draw to make someone who lives in London come to Charlotte for a destination."
He believes that Charlotte, with the DNC already on its list of "gets," should focus on marketing itself as a convention city -- not necessarily a vacation site.
"I think we sell it as what we have to offer for a convention to come to Charlotte," he said. "That's really good money that's being done for conventions... maybe as much or more as a tourist destination."