This map shows Georgia’s 9 tourism regions. Southwest Georgia’s Plantation Trace will soon join the other regions in having a full time Tourism Project Manager. (Map courtesy of Southwest Georgia Tourism Association)
ALBANY — The Plantation Trace tourism region, of which Albany is the hub, will soon be getting a full time project manager.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development, which handles tourism throughout the state, has begun the search for a tourism project manager devoted to developing tourism projects in the southwestern part of the state.
Georgia is currently divided into nine tourism regions and south Georgia’s region, known as Plantation Trace, has been without a full time tourism project manager for more than two years.
According to Rashelle Beasley, director of Albany’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, having a someone devoted solely to tourism initiatives for the region will really benefit Albany, which serves as the hub of Plantation Trace.
“It’s huge for us,” said Beasley. “Ours was the only region without a full time project manager. We’ve been really lobbying for a representative. We’ve got a lot of product development opportunities here within the region.”
Beasley said, that while Albany certain has its own individual tourism attractions, more and more potential visitors are looking at southwest Georgia as a whole, when deciding where to visit.
“People look at an entire area when they are planning a trip or event,” Beasley said. “Other areas of the state have had success by developing regional strategies. That can happen here too.”
Beasley continued by saying that many of the smaller communities within the Plantation Trace area do not have full time CVB managers or tourism directors, which makes it difficult for those areas. Many towns, like Dawson, Ga, have one person to handle chamber of commerce activities.
“A lot of our tourism offices are combined with chambers,” said Beasley. “There’s a lot of one-man shows, so to speak, within our regions. It’s hard for those people to do everything they want to for tourism.”
Gina Webb, who serves as executive director of the Terrell County Chamber of Commerce, as well as having to handle tourism, echoed Beasley’s remarks saying that the new project director will serve as a vital link between the communities and also with tourism managers statewide.
“For a community such as ours, with limited staff, having a regional program manager is vital to our success,” Webb said. “They will serve as an important expert for each area to lean on and get guidance from in developing tourism products that will benefit everyone. They will also help us to have a connection at the state level too.”
Webb said that much of the credit for the regional project manager position being reinstated by the state economic development department should go to state legislators, like Sen. Freddie Powell Sims and State Reps. Ed Rynders and Gerald Greene.
“Our local legislators have really helped with this,” Webb said. “They really banded together and worked hard for Southwest Georgia. They’ve been really good to us.”
Beasley concurred with Webb’s statement, saying that it was that hard work at the state level that got funding for the position approved.
“They need to get all the credit for this,” Beasley said. “All them were really helpful. They supported us and fought for us to make sure we got our fair share.”
The search to fill the position will be handled by the human resources division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, which will begin reviewing resumes today.