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Blackburn: CCVB drawing in visitors

Posted: June 18, 2017 - 1:47am

The growth of Columbia County is becoming a hot topic around the state of Georgia. The most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate we are the third fastest-growing county in Georgia and the 28th fastest-growing county in the country.

As the Destination Marketing Organization for Columbia County, the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) understands the importance of growth and its impact on tourism. We know it is critical to have a strategic plan to get ahead of the growth.

Last month, the CCCVB welcomed Berkeley Young, owner of Young Strategies Inc., to facilitate a strategic plan for the staff and board of directors. Young is one of the top tourism professionals in the country, and his level of expertise is second to none. He spent time touring Columbia County and having candid conversations with members of our community.

During his visit, Young helped the CCCVB develop a long-range vision. Through his guidance, the staff and board of directors identified several strategic initiatives and goals. We believe these core initiatives will assist in driving increased visitation and visitor spending for the economic benefit of the county's residents.

As a result of this plan, the CCCVB will take a segmented approach to driving increased room demand among group and leisure travelers. Increased room demand drives broad visitor spending, and perpetuates growth of the travel industry, adds jobs and provides the broadest possible economic impact. Through smart market research, we will identify the ratio of travelers currently driving room demand and the future growth potential of each. Through these initiatives, we will continue to engage in close partnership with Columbia County lodging properties to ensure success.

The CCCVB will also implement an aggressive group sales plan in collaboration with the 17 lodging properties in Columbia County. Our strategy will allow us to assist each property with group sales to help sales teams deliver the highest possible return on investment.

We will work diligently over the next year to research trends in our lodging segmentations and seek out the best possible fit for each of our properties.

While many of our strategic initiatives focus on short-term growth, we are persistently planning for the future. In order to sustain long-term tourism growth, the CCCVB hopes to support the development of a long-range development master plan that addresses all aspects of the visitor experience. We will create a vision for Columbia County as a top destination by 2030.

So why should you care? As a resident, you reap the benefits of tourism impact.

Visitors to our community spend money in hotels, restaurants, retail, gas stations and much more. Visitors to Columbia County spend nearly $138 million annually and support 1,200 jobs. Each household saves $210 a year thanks to the impact visitors make on our community. That is big business.

How can you help? We call on you, residents of Columbia County, to serve as our ambassadors. We know word of mouth is the most effective way to influence others.

When you encounter a visitor, please tell them why you chose this wonderful county as your home.

When you are looking for a location for your next association meeting or family reunion, choose to keep your meeting here in Columbia County. Help us tell the world why we love this place so much.

There truly is no place like home and we are blessed to live in such a vibrant county. The CCCVB staff and board of directors are thrilled about our new strategic plan and are eager to create a better place to live, work and visit.

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Shelly Blackburn is the Executive Director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

 

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Comments (1)

Riverman1

Missed Most Important Tourism Aspect

This study missed and may even harm the most significant source of tourist income in the county. Millions are brought in each year with house rentals for the Masters Tournament. These millions that go into the pockets of local residents who create much local spending, in addition to what the visitors actually spend. The focus should be on providing enough county rental facilities for corporate events for those renting homes in Columbia County during April. Trying to artificially create a tourist demand beyond the Masters and the lake is a waste of money. Few without links to the area are going to make this a vacation destination. I remember the last tourism study costing tens of thousands that found the county needed more signs. Given the omnipresence of GPS devices that was especially laughable.