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Making Augusta a tourist attraction

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 6:07 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 4:16 AM
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Instead of marketing Au­gusta as a geographical lo­cation, a tourism expert re­commended that officials promote “how much there is to do here.”

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Tourism expert Roger Brooks speaks at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau's State of Tourism luncheon.    JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Tourism expert Roger Brooks speaks at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau's State of Tourism luncheon.

“You must sell the experience first and the location second,” said Roger Brooks, the president and CEO of Destination Development International and one of the most sought-after experts in creating great destinations.

Brooks was the guest speaker Wednesday at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau’s second annual State of Tourism luncheon. He shared general advice on attracting tourists and observations of Augusta’s tourism efforts.

Successful tourism efforts are built on product, not marketing, and Augusta’s CVB is one of the first in Georgia to have a product development professional on its staff, Brooks said.

It’s also important to bring downtown to life, invest in retail beautification – including more trees along streets – make public markets a year-round part of downtown and create good first impressions at gateways.

“When they come into Augusta, they’re going to judge the book by the cover,” Brooks said.

Baby boomers account for 80 percent of all travel spending. Brooks said they want culinary experiences, art, ethnic events and home and garden activities. Echo boomers, or millenials, born between 1977 and 1994, like the same types of attractions, as well as the environment.

“This is the age of third places. You need to create third places. The first place is the place where we live, our home. The second place is the place we work. The third place is the place we go to hang out. Those are downtowns,” Brooks said.

Successful destinations need central gathering places, such as outdoor cafes.

“That’s what visitors and locals want. If you’re losing your young people, a good reason might be is that you’re losing your third places or you don’t have them,” he said.

Successful cities must also transition to the European standard, which allows people to eat and shop later.

“Seventy percent of all consumer spending takes place after 6 p.m. I went to downtown Broad Street last night, and I could have shot a cannon down the street. You’re building a convention center ... but when we’re there after a conference, we spend our money when we’re done,” Brooks said.

He emphasized the importance of way-finding systems. Augusta has made efforts, but he recommended having signs that “connect the dots” and lead to specific things, such as James Brown’s statue. He also recommended pedestrian way-finding signs.

“When we see the Masters here, we assume that all of Augusta is going to be stunningly beautiful. You’re a great city, Augusta. But in the end, you must deliver on the promise. We have high expectations when we’re coming here,” he said.

RICHMOND COUNTY TOURISM

In 2010, tourism in Richmond County generated:

• 4,290 jobs

• $407.44 million in direct tourist spending

• $15.76 million in state tax revenues

• $12.14 million in local tax revenues

• $1.11 million per day in tourism-related expenses

HOTELS: In 2011, visitors spent a record amount in Augusta hotels. According to Smith Travel Research, total hotel revenue increased by 5.6 percent from 2010.

BEAUTIFICATION: More than $550,000 in private funds have been contributed to beautification efforts in Augusta. Projects have been completed on Wheeler Road and are in progress on St. Sebastian Way. Beautification efforts will soon begin on Gordon Highway, Alexander Drive, and at River Watch Parkway and Interstate 20.

Source: Barry White, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Comments (46) Add comment
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augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 02/15/12 - 08:12 pm
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"create third places"?

"create third places"? Really? I guess that's "cool"....

Frankie-B
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Frankie-B 02/15/12 - 09:29 pm
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Really? You paid this guy to

Really? You paid this guy to tell us to "bring downtown to life"? Was he also making an offer to sell us really good power tools cheaply because he's overstocked? We are talking about Augusta, GEORGIA, right? We might get the producers of "COPS" to visit... The lake is perfect for filming a horror movie, as its all but abandoned. Or we can use Regency Mall for a armageddon backdrop. Y'all slay me.

virgilkane
389
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virgilkane 02/15/12 - 09:34 pm
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I think he summed it up well.

I think he summed it up well. Most all popular tourist destinations have thriving downtown areas. Even during Masters week downtown is dead. So sad because it has so much potential.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 02/15/12 - 09:46 pm
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Beautiful Augusta. Come check

Beautiful Augusta. Come check out our buildings, ya'll.

KSL
140394
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KSL 02/15/12 - 10:27 pm
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Please, please, please, there

Please, please, please, there is no such contraction "ya'll." The contraction is for you all. It is formed this way: "y'all."

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ya%27ll

Please spell Southern correctly.

floridasun
343
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floridasun 02/15/12 - 11:00 pm
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Sadly Mr Books is

Sadly Mr Books is correct.
It's going to take a lot to get someone to want to visit Augusta for something other than the Masters.
Augusta is a very uncool land of sprawl,big box stores and chain restaurants.
The sad thing is most in Augusta are so tied to the status quo they think there's nothing to improve upon

KSL
140394
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KSL 02/15/12 - 11:10 pm
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I think it is more important

I think it is more important to make the area a place to want to work and live than a place to visit. Think how hard it is to manufacture a reason to visit a place. Who wants to visit Cleveland, Ohio, Kansas City, MO, even some of the historic places now which have fallen upon hard times? Make it a place to want to come to live and work. Forget the tourism. Those dollars are up and down during various economic times.

countyman
21299
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countyman 02/15/12 - 11:34 pm
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I think anybody can see

I think anybody can see downtown has a long way to go, but it's so much better compared to 2000.. Soon Lower Broad will match the vibrancy of Upper Broad street and Artist Row...

The lower broad area is starting to see a large amount of private construction.. Sprint Food & Metro Market at 851 Broad, Downtown Barroom located at 877 Broad, Bar 544 at 544 Broad, Just Essentials at 956 Broad, Killer B Disc Golf at 863 Broad, 556 Broad, S4 Lounge at 952 Broad, mix use project at 566 Broad, 967 Broad has four new apts, Tantra Lounge, Sundrees Market, 6 Degrees(Outdoor/Sporting Goods) at 752 Broad street, and two other renovations underway at 565 and 586 Broad..

Many buildings along Greene street are coming back to life.. 920 Greene St, 1225 Greene, 464 Greene, and 834 Greene street in the CBD.. Along with the renovation of the Dunbar Howard House at 314-316 Greene in Olde Town..

While Mon-Wed nights aren't real vibrant, Thurs-Sat nights are full of people past 2am... If you add the number of new residential units underway or completed recently.. Emporium (9 apts), 920 Greene street(six new apts), Whites Building(34 condos), 967 Broad street(4 apts), and Red Star(4 apts).. That equals 57 new residential spots in the CBD.. This isn't counting the projects underway at 220-222 6th street, and the Rice House.. Along with the two construction projects coming soon(307 Ninth street & 586 Broad street.) Or the Lofts at Marbury proposed for Greene street(52 units)..

By 2012 and 2013 Augusta's downtown will be much more vibrant.. TEE Center, purchasing of Fort Discovery, sold WJBF studios, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Rural Sourcing 100 IT jobs, renovated Whites building and warehouse, Hyatt Place hotel, and finally the big dog.. The retail, residential, research park, and multi-use facility at the GGHF site...

Virgil... I think you need to visit the Par 3 Party, and Mayors Masters Reception if you think downtown is dead during April..

Floridasun.. I agree we need other things to attract people to the city.. Let's not forget the Westobou, Arts in the Heart, ESI Ironman, US National Cycling Championships, Augusta Futurity, Southern Nationals, etc brings tourist to Augusta..

mike71345
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mike71345 02/16/12 - 01:09 am
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Hey, tourists! Don't

Hey, tourists! Don't forget--if you're staying in an Augusta hotel, you can ride Augusta buses all day long. For free! You can ride past and see all the new apartments countyman keeps bragging about in the CBD, turn around at River Glen, and head back to see 'em again.
Savannah actually promotes their free tourist/public transportation, why doesn't Augusta?

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 02/16/12 - 01:17 am
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Other than the Masters, why

Other than the Masters, why would anybody in driving distance of Augusta not just go to Savannah for a weekend getaway?

allhans
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allhans 02/16/12 - 03:15 am
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Savannah has lots more of the

Savannah has lots more of the tacky rip-off souvenir shops than Augusta does. An entire waterfront. Of course they all sell the same items but heck they do have a couple of decent restaurants thrown in.

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 02/16/12 - 06:34 am
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For "third places" to work,

For "third places" to work, they have to be "organic" and "good." They can not be contrived and inconsistent. "Build it and they will come" is the quickest way to turn $20 million into $1million. An attraction worth visiting has to be more than the restaurants. The restaurants are supposed to come because the people are already there. I suggest a zip line hub that can take you over Broad Street, one through the trees along Riverwalk, and then one across the river. And also a permanent James H. Drew ride exhibit with a rollercoaster ride to the top of the Southern Finance Building for a thrilling plunge over the rooftops along Broad and a tunnel through the new parking deck. You all can pay me later. Focus should be on creating more "second places."

seenitB4
93730
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seenitB4 02/16/12 - 06:50 am
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This is too funny....duhjudge

This is too funny....duhjudge has it right....a way to turn 20 mil into 2 mil........yeh....let's all run downtown & have some fun......nope...that's not what I hear..

Cestlavie
147
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Cestlavie 02/17/12 - 06:34 am
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I think that any city who

I think that any city who bills itself as the "Garden City" should not look like the garbage city. If we just take the time to beautify the gateways to the city, especially Gordon Hwy. from the airport, that would help move us from being labeled a little country town. Although I have seen evidence of some of the dilapidated structures being torn down in the Turpin Hill area, and the long awaited demolition of the hotel on Tubman Home & Gordon Hwy., we have got to do a better and faster job with getting rid of the blight. Then we can work on bringing more attractions to the area.

Riverman1
90678
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Riverman1 02/16/12 - 07:19 am
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I've talked to a couple of

I've talked to a couple of business owners on Broad St and they echo what Brooks said. Downtown foot traffic is the worst it's been in decades.

Riverman1
90678
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Riverman1 02/16/12 - 07:22 am
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A good balance to Mayor

A good balance to Mayor Deke's fluff award from Southern Living.

By the way, I saw the nomination forms online for Southern Living's awards. Anybody could nominate anyone, basically. Who nominated Deke? Can we find that out? Inquiring minds want to know.

seenitB4
93730
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seenitB4 02/16/12 - 08:06 am
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http://blog.makezine.com/2011

http://blog.makezine.com/2011/12/18/impressive-lighting-display-in-ukraine/

Put something for folks to SEE....interesting---exciting--different=---light up the drabness....dang--do we have to tell ya everything??
On second thought---give the $$ to me-River & Llamb & we will bring the people downtown for ya....$100,000 a piece will do it........:)

nanowerx
1359
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nanowerx 02/16/12 - 08:24 am
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A few years back there were

A few years back there were two proposals for Augusta tourism.
1. Turn the abandoned canal sections that run throughout downtown into a whitewater rafting and tubing experience. They even did studies on other towns that did the exact thing and showed how it breathed life into the economy significantly.
2. Eliminate the now unneeded downtown flood barriers (aka the giant mound of earth that separates the river and riverwalk areas from the rest of downtown) and turn that area into something similar to what Savannah has in their downtown Riverwalk area. The specific location of Savannah is huge with tourism.

Of course both of these proposals were shot down by the Augusta Commission because they would rather divide themselves and bicker over fringe issues like complete private business smoking bans that just drive away business.

Augusta has a decent arts and culinary charm, but it is nothing to phone home over or encourage people to spend hard-earned money to visit here for. The city of Augusta has long leaned on the Masters tournament to run our economy and that simply does not work for the other 51 weeks of the year. We need ENTERTAINMENT in order to thrive as a city. Bring in a Dave and Busters, start doing public projects using our desolate river, run fun things like Atlanta does with the annual Zombie run, just bring in some form of entertainment to the area that doesn't involve another restaurant or bar....Augusta (and especially downtown) is filled with enough of them.

The Godfather
43
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The Godfather 02/16/12 - 08:30 am
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Country forgot about our #1

Country forgot about our #1 draw to downtown... The Discoteque...now thats a tourist destination....and seenitb4... there is something to see alright...

Little Lamb
47986
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Little Lamb 02/16/12 - 08:50 am
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Tourism expert Roger Brooks

Tourism expert Roger Brooks said:

Successful destinations need central gathering places, such as outdoor cafes.

I wonder how much the Convention and Visitor's Bureau paid this joker to come here and make this speech?

seenitB4
93730
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seenitB4 02/16/12 - 08:52 am
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Yeh godfather ...that is

Yeh godfather ...that is something to see alright....funny theeeng AC won't let me post THAT link..:)

Little Lamb
47986
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Little Lamb 02/16/12 - 09:01 am
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He might as well have

He might as well have resurrected Andy Cheek's idea to have taxpayers create a canal down Ellis Street, peppered with sidewalk cafés on the banks and with gondolas ferrying people along the waterway. That would draw the tourists in. Of course, the management contract for the gondola concession would go to Riverfront LLC.

Riverman1
90678
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Riverman1 02/16/12 - 09:06 am
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I tell you what would work

I tell you what would work and could be done for about a million bucks. Artificial rapids in the river constructed with inflatable bags that are controlled creating the desired conditions. That would bring kayakers from everywhere with spin-off businesses.

Riverman1
90678
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Riverman1 02/16/12 - 09:08 am
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I've also written extensively

I've also written extensively in the past about coordinating our local strong points such as golf, riding and sailing with the hotels to provide transportation to these venues for guests.

Bruno
780
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Bruno 02/16/12 - 09:19 am
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I agree that the flood

I agree that the flood barriers need to go. Anything that separates one location from the next will imply that there is not a cohesive city. Augusta is too small to chop itself up into sections. I would also say that wider sidewalks and keeping the scale of the buildings appropriate to their use and area would go a long way.

Look at how San Antonio deals with their River Walk. If you make the infrastructure appealing to businesses and then get out of the way the businesses will come and thus the tourism.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 02/16/12 - 09:36 am
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Other than the golf, the

Other than the golf, the only other reasons to come, would be for family, business, MCG and VA. There are no tourist attractions, and certainly no shopping. The lake does have some possibilities, but, not without some water stability. Lake Lanier is too crowded to enjoy and Lake Oconee prices most people out.

GuesS_wHU
3
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GuesS_wHU 02/16/12 - 09:45 am
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I can't wait to go here:

I can't wait to go here: Sprint Food & Metro Market at 851 Broad, thanks for the tip countyman.

It sounds so exciting but sometimes it concerns me that I would have to fight off all of the tourist flocking to the Sprint Food & Metro Market at 851 Broad.

Little Lamb
47986
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Little Lamb 02/16/12 - 09:58 am
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You know, when you stand on

You know, when you stand on the sidewalk along the river in Savannah and look away from the river, what do you see? A large wall blocking the view with tacky souvenier shops and overpriced tourist trap restaurants (the best restaurants are up on the bluff or in other places around town). When you stand on the sidewalk along the river in Augusta and look away from the river, what do you see? A landscaped garden creating a peaceful view. There are shrubs, flowers, rock gardens, sculptures, trees, grass, etc. Augusta's riverwalk is better than Savannah's riverwalk. Don't tear down that levee, Mr. Mayor!

twolane
191
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twolane 02/16/12 - 10:05 am
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one word greenville and no it
Unpublished

one word greenville and no it doesnt need a stadium and downtown there is NOTHING for anyone over 30 NOTHING

Riverman1
90678
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Riverman1 02/16/12 - 11:39 am
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Construction of artificial

Construction of artificial rapids aside, here is what we have now that Atlanta, Charlotte and other big cities can't touch. Within 30 minutes we have economical world class golf with Forrest Hills, North Augusta and now the Patch. We have tennis all over year round. We have world class riding, polo, etc in Aiken. We have sailing at the lake at the club there that can't be matched anywhere around here. We have shooting and hunting, also. Wealthy people come from all over for the things I mentioned. The trick is to get the average convention goer access to these activities.

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