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Tourism team to show off its results to community

POSTED: January 19, 2012 5:42 p.m.
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Richard Loper of the Historic Effingham Society discusses Effingham County’s history with members of the state’s Tourism Resource Team during their visit to the county. The resource team will present their findings and recommendations Jan. 26 in a meeting at the county administrative complex.

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It was very early, on a cool November morning, with dew still clinging to the long grass and pine needles and the sun peaking brightly through the stately oaks and dogwoods on a high bluff above the Savannah River, just south of Clyo, when the Tourism Resource Team first laid eyes on the John Adam Treutlen Home site.

Before the team would lay their heads on the pillows at the Ebenezer Retreat Center, they saw some of Effingham County’s most notable sites, learned the county’s history and indulged in Effingham County.  And the best part, the tour was incomplete after just four full days — there was simply too much to see.

The team is now ready to present their findings, results and recommendations to Effingham County on Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the commissioners meeting room at the county administrative complex in Springfield.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend. 

Local participation is essential to fully explore Effingham’s potential.

In early 2011, Effingham County was selected by the Tourism Product Development Office to participate in this new initiative, which focuses technical assistance in the form of a reconnaissance and strategy visit to local communities interested in developing its tourism potential. Effingham’s selection to receive this assessment was the result of the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau’s work, which forged relationships and originally inquired about the services.

The Resource Team’s objective includes inventorying and discussing assets that are most likely candidates for developing a tourism-based economy in Effingham County and identifying obstacles that might impede the implementation of such an effort. During the visit, the team met with local county leadership to assess the portfolio of tourism related assets within the community relevant to the areas of heritage tourism, cultural assets, nature-based and agritourism.

The Resource Team, headed by Bruce Green, director of Tourism Product Development with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, consisted of representatives from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Council for the Arts, Georgia Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Creative Digital Productions and additional staff from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The assembled group toured various sites of historical, regional, archeological and agricultural significance to see just what Effingham County has to offer to potential visitors. Sites included the Ebenezer site, historic Guyton and Springfield, John Adam Treutlen Home site and a host of others. The Resource Team interviewed local stakeholders with knowledge of the community in the areas of the arts, culture, downtown development, history and heritage, and agritourism.

In early November, at the invitation of the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Effingham County Board of Commissioners, the Tourism Resource Team came from around the state to experience Effingham for the purpose of helping the community better understand, harness and hopefully cash in on Georgia’s tourism market.  Steeped in history and blessed with natural resources and located close to a tourist destination, Effingham is preparing to take a step toward increasing its tourism potential.

This assessment presentation Jan. 26 is seen as just the beginning; the report and the findings could serve as a road map for moving forward with eye toward economic development in the community, all while sharing the story of Effingham.

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