Tourism is on the rise in Americus and Sumter County. (Source: WALB)
The Windsor Hotel is a popular attraction. (Source: WALB)
The welcome center is going to be 're-vamped' in the next few months. (Source: WALB)
Nicole Kirksey is the tourism director. (Source: WALB)
SUMTER CO., GA (WALB) -
Folks in the city of Americus and Sumter County are celebrating national tourism week.
In the past few years, the county has seen a steady increase in tourism.
By the amount of foot traffic on any given weekend, it's no secret tourism is booming in Sumter County.
Right next to the popular Windsor Hotel, the welcome center is the most common stomping ground for travelers.
"People stop here first so they really understand what there is to do and how to do it," said Nicole Kirksey, tourism director for Americus and Sumter County.
"This new focus on tourism in the community is really showing a big difference on the economic impact here," said Kirksey.
From Andersonville to the Jimmy Carter National Historic site, travel and tourism employed 437 people in 20-15. In the same year, the city and county generated 46 million dollars in direct tourism spending.
"We just had to build a strong foundation. So far everything is working out. We are really proud," said Kirksey.
While this year had been one for the record books, as far as money generated in tourism, Kirksey hopes to continue to see an increase in tourism in the years to come.
In the next couple of weeks the tourism department will roll out a new initiative, including re-vamping the welcome center and re-branding the community.
"We are about a month out from unveiling our new brand which is going to be how do you take all of these unique communities and come up with one identity. But we think we did it," said Kirksey.
On top of the new brand, Kirksey said by the end of the year you will be able to take cemetery, agri-tourism and African American heritage tours.
"These are areas where we have strong stories. And now those stories are going to be told in a more organized fashion. So we'll hopefully have more product for people to come and enjoy," said Kirksey.
This week the welcome center is hosting events to highlight the tourism industry.
Kirksey said it's not just for tourists. It's a chance for residents to enjoy as well.
On Monday folks in the welcome center handed out free peanut butter ice cream from Plains.
On Tuesday the city of Americus will host a culinary tour.
And on Friday, the tourism council will honor tourism professionals.