Gas scare affects local tourism, has impact on tour of homes
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce staff and volunteers fielded a number of calls last weekend from potential visitors who were worried about the availability of fuel in Morgan County, said chamber CEO Marguerite Copelan at Madison’s regular council meeting on Monday.
“We tracked at least 10 calls from people asking whether there was gas in Madison,” said Copelan.
Last weekend was the inaugural Fall Kitchen Tour in Madison and Morgan County, sponsored by the chamber. And while the event attracted 500 visitors from six states and four countries, attendance was slightly lower than was hoped for, possibly because of the perceived Atlanta gas crisis in which a number of gas stations ran out of gas.
“We felt like [the kitchen tour] was really well received…but people may have been worried about getting here and finding there was no gas to get home,” said Copelan.
Last weekend also brought 125 members of the Country Road Cruisers to Madison to show their classic cars to viewers on Sunday.
Between the car show and the kitchen tour, many downtown business owners said weekend business was strong.
“I did talk to some of the merchants, and they seemed to have had a good weekend,” said Ann Huff, director of Madison’s Main Street program. Despite an economic crunch and rising gas prices, August was a strong month for visitors to Madison, with numbers up 31 percent over August 2007.
“We just had a lot of foot traffic and a very good month,” said Copelan.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Mayor Tom DuPree, referring to August’s strong visitor showing. “Given the price of gas…I’m surprised and gratified.”
Event planners and business supporters are also hoping to have a good month in October, with local events scheduled continuously for the next few weeks. “There’s something coming up every weekend—that’s good for the community,” said Huff.