Augusta is steeped in golf history, but visitors expecting a golfer's paradise when they step off the plane or drive into town may be disappointed.
That's why the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau board unanimously approved a three-year strategic plan Thursday that calls for an increased emphasis on the city's golf history.
"We're not just golf. We know we're not just golf. We're only using it as a tease for tourists to look deeper into Augusta," said Jennifer Bowen, the bureau's director of public relations.
The plan, conceived after workshops and meetings with bureau leaders and tourism industry stakeholders, backs up a study released last month that states most tourists associate Augusta with golf.
The bureau's plan calls for the city to become "the premier historic golf destination of America."
"Historic" is the key word.
"We were the premier winter golf capital of America in the 1920s," executive director Barry White said.
The bureau said it has brainstormed ideas such as placing markers throughout the city that denote moments in Augusta golf history and even incorporating golf balls into downtown street signs, Ms. Bowen said.
The strategic plan calls for building a stronger partnership with the Augusta National Golf Club, conducting an economic impact study on the Masters Tournament and forming alliances with golf courses, shops and equipment manufacturers.
As part of the bureau's intent to become more proactive in marketing the city, it listed as a goal the development of a golf resort hotel development in Augusta by 2008.
In the past, bureaus have strictly marketed what's already available, Mr. White said.
Bureau leaders got pro-active during the latest SPLOST fund by actively campaigning for its passage.
"That was the first time we stepped out on that level - to be leaders," Ms. Bowen said.
The passage of the special sales tax will allow the bureau to fund an exhibition and trade center in Augusta in 2009.
Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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