2002The seed for MATPRA is planted during an informal discussion at the PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference in April in Albuquerque, N.M. by Founder, Mindy Bianca, of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development. The first meeting of what would become MATPRA is held in July near Baltimore, with 35 to 40 attendees in attendance. More than a dozen more DMO reps couldn’t make it to the meeting, but were eager to learn more. Did you know that one of the original names considered for the group was the Special Mid-Atlantic Regional Tourism Public Relations Officers (SMART-PRO’s!) 2003The “common threads” group agrees to call itself Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance following Rand McNally’s definition of the region, encompassing Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. The alliance finalizes its mission statement in July: The Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance is a cohesive unit of regional tourism partners encompassing Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The group serves travel journalists by creating regional resources that ignore geographical boundaries. The alliance promotes common threads and offers saleable stories to journalists about the Mid-Atlantic destination as a whole. Valley Forge, PA, CVB establishes the midatlanticghosts.com website under the alliance name. MATPRA distributes its first group news release nationally. 2004First slate of MATPRA officers elected in West Virginia establishes MATPRA website and e-mail discussion group through Yahoo. Inaugural MATPRA Media Marketplace is held in June in Washington, D.C. at the Mandarin Oriental with 34 destinations participating. Journalists are invited to participate in a post-Marketplace FAM while DMO’s attend professional development panel. Membership requirement was instituted that members must attend at least one meeting per year to be considered active. Decided to add a professional development speaker to quarterly meetings. 2005Members voted to grant Mindy Bianca, MATPRA founder, full membership and Member Emeritus status. 2006Pennsylvania Dutch Country CVB hosts third MATPRA Media Marketplace and event is extended to include three overnight stays and expanded FAM tour options, which would be attended by both journalists and DMO’s. 2007Connie Yingling with Maryland Office of Tourism Development meets with Attorney General to discuss MATPRA becoming legal. Connie and Janene Charbeneau with Visit Richmond lay groundwork to incorporate MATPRA. 2008MATPRA is officially incorporated in State of Virginia. 2010MATPRA purchases insurance for officers. 2012MATPRA votes to move to a paid membership organization to build funds in an effort to offset the overall marketing of the organization including website updates and strategic visioning for the future. MATPRA communications move to LinkedIn, replacing the Yahoo! account. 2013MATPRA launches a revised website. The new website promotes the MATPRA organization, and its encompassing partners, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. The website also serves as a resource for journalists across the Mid-Atlantic so they can learn more about the towns and attractions across the region. 2014MATPRA’s social media committee created a Facebook and Instagram account to further promote the organization and its destinations. The social media committee uses imagery and content to highlight a variety of attractions and activities across the Mid-Atlantic. The organization implemented its member e-newsletter to further communicate the mission of MATPRA along with important announcements and updates to its tourism partners. 2015MATPRA’s website goes through an extensive redesign. The media application and vetting process for journalists is introduced, giving the media committee and board of directors the opportunity to properly research the caliber and credentials of journalists interested in attending MATPRA Media Marketplace, which took place in Erie, Pennsylvania. Erie becomes the first Media Marketplace where MATPRA recruits international writers from Canada. Membership began to grow and surpassed 60 members. In order to provide more resources to membership, professional development for DMOs is incorporated during the quarterly meetings. 2016The organization hires its first paid staff member to assist with secretarial duties. MATPRA starts to recognize DMO members for their service on committees and volunteer work. Professional development for DMOs and travel writers is incorporated into MATPRA Media Marketplace, starting in Talbot County, Maryland. 2017A newly designed MATPRA website and logo are revealed during the Media Marketplace in Winchester, Virginia. What started off as a group activity during a quarterly meeting in Lynchburg, Virginia, MATPRA started designing regional itineraries for travel writers. 2018MATPRA begins revising the by-laws and articles of incorporation to better fulfill the mission of the organization. Group press releases, meeting RSVPs and Media Marketplace profile sheets become digitized and easily accessed via email to DMOs. 2019MATPRA develops Policies & Procedures Guidelines for its members. The Guidelines include information about MATPRA’s mission statement, general inquiries, requirements for membership eligibility, membership dues, Board of Directors, committees, quarterly meetings, website, imagery collection, group press releases, social media coverage, and MATPRA Media Marketplace. 2020Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, MATPRA chooses not to host Media Marketplace, as the health and wellness of our DMOs and travel writers are of the utmost importance. In order to provide DMOs media exposure in a time when they needed it most, MATPRA hosted its first virtual fall road trip itinerary for writers during the month of October, which allowed them to reach out to DMO’s individually to schedule trips throughout the Mid-Atlantic. 2021MATPRA’s membership hits a record-breaking number of 79 paying members. The organization is growing rapidly, and the marketing and social media committee is combined; enabling them to work together on content development and marketing campaigns. The marketing committee creates a marketing plan for the organization, which is used as a guide to help further MATPRA’s growth and development, goals and strategic plans. MATPRA also amps up its marketing by sponsoring events like Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).