Let's reel 'em in, naturally

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The potential for growing tourism dollars is seen in the 40 fish landed in 50 minutes by Robert Bradburn's group boating on Thurmond Lake.

A recent picture of the group, published in Bill Baab's fishing column June 12, is worth more than words. It's worth thousands of visitors who infuse our local economy with millions of dollars.

In May, Augusta was the site of the 2009 Georgia Outdoor Writers Association conference, a small but significant event that brought journalists from throughout the state. They visited our lakes and river, and shared information about Georgia's great outdoors. And we do have some great areas.

These moments result in natural promotion of our region.

Recently, the Greater Augusta Sports Council and the city pulled in a nice fish, too. The International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit chose Augusta as its 2010 host site. Some 500 cyclists from around the world will traverse our area -- perusing curio shops and feasting to fuel their rides on the Forks Area Trail System in Sumter National Forest.

All these moments work together. They are bait for each other, and their collective impact can only improve our region and help lure even larger conventions.

But you can't land the big fish without the right equipment. Ask any fisherman. We still don't have a boat big enough to land major car shows and industry expos. We lack the 2005 voter-approved TEE center, still lost in the thick weeds of politics.

We compete very well with other areas in terms of hotel space, restaurants and the extracurricular activities for conventioneers, explains Augusta city administrator Fred Russell. We lack the 40,000 square feet of open space. Frankly, we wouldn't be surprised if another part of the region moved ahead with such a worthwhile project while we are stuck in the mud.

What a shame if Augusta is left talking about the one that got away.

The bounty in the Thurmond Lake photo and the recent headlines about our wonderful outdoors paint a bright picture of the potential for tourism. These events should help inspire our Augusta commissioners to put aside divisive conversation and cast their lines to reel in more tourism and economic development dollars.

What picture do we want our visitors to take home?

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Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 06/23/09 - 06:08 am
0
0
Augusta needs to pick one

Augusta needs to pick one spot, and start there. The projects proposed are scattered. Clean up one area of the city, then progress will spread. Down town is decrepit. Augusta should start at I-20 and Washington road, and work its way down. West Augusta is the cities last hope.

ldsmith1
1
Points
ldsmith1 06/23/09 - 06:39 am
0
0
Part of the struggle at

Part of the struggle at Clarks Hill/ Thrumond Lake has long been the Corps of Engineers' control of land surrounding the lake (on the GA side). Charlie Norwood tried to make some changes, but some small town thinkers in the Lincoln and McDuffie counties were afraid that private development would end access for the "poor folk". Clarks Hill could easily be for the CSRA what Lake Lanier is for the Atlanta area. It is a diamond in the rough.

Riverman1
79511
Points
Riverman1 06/23/09 - 08:00 am
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0
Augusta does have much to

Augusta does have much to offer, but it is different than places with obvious tourist attractions such as a beach, etc. The wealthy have known about the CSRA for decades, but the average convention attendee needs to be helped. I've attended conventions all over the country and would like to point out something. The TEE center will help bring in events, but the most important thing you can do is (drum roll) arrange connections for the guests to enjoy the things our area is known for. You can't expect visitors to find a place to ride horses, bike, kayak, hunt, fish, golf or play tennis on their own. These kind of activities require local knowledge, help getting there and so on. The hotel where the conventioneers are staying (and as many hotels as we can manage) should have brochures and posters with the activities described with detailed information and transportation arranged, possibly by the activity. They look at a poster, call the number and everything is arranged. Convention goers are willing to pay more and that would cover the costs of the transportation. We have much to offer as the wealthy of the word know, but the Disney type visitor needs to be shown.

Riverman1
79511
Points
Riverman1 06/23/09 - 08:05 am
0
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To continue...First, work

To continue...First, work with private concerns that can provide each of the activities I listed above. Get them to see the potential of the tourist income, then help with the brochures and posters. There are probably various ways transportation could be provided, but each concern having a van seems to be the most practical.

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