Posted: Mar 29, 2013 1:19 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
MISSOULA - It will be the "Garden City" versus "Rocket City U.S.A." in the championship round of voting for the right to host a national tourism conference this fall.
Huntsville, Alabama defeated Cleveland, Ohio by just under 1,000 votes in Thursday's Facebook voting to move on to the championship round against Missoula next week.
The cities are competing the privilege of hosting the 2013 Social Media Tourism Symposium next November.
The conference, commonly called "SoMeT13" is prized because it brings in several hundred travel writers who specialize in using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Destination Missoula leaders say that could create tremendous online "buzz" for Missoula and Montana as a whole.
But besting Huntsville will be a challenge. The city is well known for its tourism attractions, including the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and its ties to the space program going all the way back to the 1950s. The city also has Civil War history and a well-known historical district, as well as natural attractions of Central Alabama. Huntsville itself has more than twice Missoula's population.
However, Missoula has proven feisty in the early rounds, with vote totals climbing from each previous contest. That could be key to winning on Tuesday, since Hunstville gathered almost twice the votes that Missoula generated in the last round.