Spurring tourism with marketing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Spurring tourism with marketing

January 25, 2005

Albany - In 2003, tourists spent $25-billion dollars in Georgia. Southwest Georgia generated only a small portion of that money because it was the least visited area of the state. That's something Chamber of Commerce leaders want to change by marketing the attractions this area has to offer.

It was a slow day at the Flint Riverquarium, leaving time for employees to clean the fish tanks. Across town, Chamber of Commerce leaders from around southwest Georgia were fishing for answers to one big question, "How do we create southwest Georgia as a tourism destination?"asked Phil Jacobs, the Chairman of the State Economic Development Department.

Phil Jacobs led a brainstorming session with tourism and business leaders to find out how to lure Florida-bound travelers off the interstate and into southwest Georgia.

"There are millions of people in Georgia and the southeast that don't realize the 30 or 40 amazing venues that are available throughout southwest Georgia,"said County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard. Sinyard says billboards are an essential marketing tool. "When folks are coming down I-75, there'll see a sign that says 'See Southwest Georgia.' It will list different venues on each sign."

Sinyard hopes those signs will draw visitors to venues such as the Flint Riverquarium, the Parks at Chehaw, Colquitt's Swamp Gravy, and even attractions locals don't know about. "I been in this area for 30 years, and I'm even learning about some exciting places they I had no idea existed," said Albany Mayor Dr. Willie Adams.

In the past, the individual attractions marketed on their own. Now, the state and county chamber of commerces want to pool their resources and ideas. "By pulling all these ideas together, we can come up with a marketing plan that will better represent southwest Georgia," said Jacobs.

Will southwest Georgia ever be able to compete with Atlanta for tourists? Maybe not, but marketing this region's tourism is the key to whether area attractions sink or swim.

In 2003, 3.8 million tourists visited southwest Georgia.

posted at 4:15PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com