The Georgia Tourism Product Development Team (TPD) is touring Morgan County June 12-13. The TPD, which aims to promote tourism in Georgia by assisting marketing efforts of for-profit, non-profit, and governmental organizations, discussed the downtown area during a lunch with city officials and local attendees on Tuesday before visiting tourism-related assets.
Director of Tourism Product Development with the Georgia Department of Economic Development Cindy Eidson explained, “After our tour in the community, we will gather our findings to help make knowledgeable recommendations to aid them in cultivating sustainable tourism product.”
Ellen Sims, executive director for the Madison-Morgan Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “We applied for this team visit over a year ago and are very excited to be able to have this opportunity to get an outside perspective on how we may better leverage and build upon our tourism assets.”
Conversations during the course of the day were complimented by a presentation by City Planner Monica Callahan focusing upon the revitalization efforts and future vision for Madison. Plans for the old railroad depot, trail systems in and around the city, the cemetery, and Town Park were shared in detail.
Callahan stated, “Madison’s perspective on how we develop tourism product is that we are first a town that develops tourism product, not a tourism town. When we develop product, it’s first based on quality of life and as something that serves our community. We think about how everything that we have serves our existing constituents. One of the things I think Madison does well involves layering, how many ways we can capitalize on a single asset. I think we do a really good job of envisioning those layers.”
One plan is to create a trail system to connect the historic cemetery’s existing trail to the Richter Cottage and the African American Museum.
“We are really trying to provide connectivity,” Callahan added. “The more product we can offer, the more things to do, the more people stay here overnight.”
City-focused discussion with Mayor Fred Perriman, the city council, City Manager David Nunn, Main Street, and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) took place with the TPD after a tour of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center and a driving tour of several house museums: the Morgan County African-American Museum, Rose Cottage, Roger House, and Heritage Hall. Other locations including the James Madison Inn, Kirby House, and Amici Livery were also visited.
Planned stops on Wednesday include Farmview Market, Steffen Thomas Museum of Art, and Southern Cross Guest Ranch. They will meet with Rutledge Mayor Bruce Altznauer at Yesterday’s Café and then visit Hard Labor Creek State Park and Cabins.
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners, County Manager Adam Mestres, and an Economic Development Team will also receive an update on the Georgia Safari Conservation Park.
Sims shared, “We already have such a great tourism product offering; however, there is always room for improvement and we look forward to this group’s expertise and all of the recommendations they will bring to the table.”