Albany makes an effort to attract tourists - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany makes an effort to attract tourists

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Albany- Jodie Russell came to the Flint Riverquarium from Thomasville with her home school association.

"We spent all day here, and just had an absolutely fantastic time," said Russell. She plans to tell her friends about the visit.

That's just what Chamber of Commerce leaders and Riverquarium managers hope she'll do. They say now is an exciting time for downtown Albany.

"The climate is especially ripe right now, with the River Center coming on-line, the Riverquarium coming on-line, the arena football team, will be starting it's season April ninth, the extension of the sales tax, is going to allow us to invest several millions of dollars into the downtown area," said Tim Martin, President and CEO of the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber plans to target potential visitors in areas like Atlanta and Florida.

"Those markets who are a close drive and can come in and spend several hours, spend the night, is the markets we're going after," said Martin.

"We have actually put up billboards on the interstate to try and capture traffic heading south to Florida and north through Georgia, getting them to come to Albany," said Doug Noble, CEO Flint Riverquarium.

Governor Sonny Perdue wants the state to help with that promotion. He wants to create a tourism foundation that will combine state and private money to boost the number of visitors to Georgia, visitors who will spend money here.

"The reason those dollars are important is they're worth more than my dollars as a resident of Albany, those dollars roll over in the community several times," said Noble.

Dollars from visitors like Jodie Russell.

"And just a lot of hands on fun stuff, but a lot of information to turn it into a real learning experience," said Russell.

An experience learning about Georgia's waterways and learning that Albany can be a good place to visit.

The Albany Chamber of Commerce is hoping to get some representation on the Governor's proposed Tourism Foundation. There are five at large positions that will be appointed by the governor.

posted by jennifer.emert@walb.com