Visitors want to PARTY! - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Visitors want to PARTY!

May 25, 2006

Albany -- The average business traveler spends $295 per day while visiting Albany. That's why a travel study concludes Albany needs to increase its appeal as a meeting destination. A group called Imagine Albany 2010 paid a North Caorlina firm to give us pointers on improving life in the Good Life City.

It didn't take a study to determine where Albany falls short. Just ask most local 20 somethings and they'll tell you... "Nightlife."

That's just one of the conclusions of a $75,000 study on Albany Travel and Tourism. Randall Travel Marketing of North Carolina studied Albany for the first four months of this year. They talked with motel managers, called 60 prior visitors, interviewed convention planners, reviewed marketing material, and questioned Albany community leaders.

Here's what they concluded:

  • Albany and Dougherty County need better signs to attractions.
  • There is limited unique dining and shopping here.
  • Downtown Albany needs more improvements, including restaurants and clubs that stay open beyond 9 pm.
  • Albany's motels are aging with 60 percent of them being more than 16 years old.
  • The distance from Albany to interstate highways. Air travel is too limited and too expensive.
  • Oh, and visitors don't like the heat and humidity.

On the upside, the report conluded that the Convention and Visitors Bureau, is doing a good job. And, that the Parks at Chehaw, the civic center, hunting and nature tourism are pluses.

What stands out perhaps the most about this report is the lack of surprises. What these consultants were paid $75,000 to conclude are, for the most part, conclusions that people who live and work here already made.

Suggestions on addressing the problems:

  • Create an independent convention and visitors bureau and house it at a suggested gateway visitor center
  • Provide information kiosks at the civic center, some motels, colleges and hospitals.
  • Erect gateway signs on Highways 91, 82, 19, 133 and 520. Signs that features the words "Where History and Nature Flow-- Albany on the Flint River."
  • And create a spa and wellness center at Radium Springs in East Albany.

And the bottom line is the bottom line. Make sure customers find information that leads them to cash registers. After all, the report concludes, the definition of tourism is putting people in front of cash registers.

Randall Travel Marketing says Albany has an excellent opportunity to do that while not overburdening its infrastructure.

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