May 8 through 16 is National Tourism Week, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is encouraging Georgians to get out and explore our beautiful state.
Georgia features almost 60,000 square miles of mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, marshes and beaches, and a rich history that spans early American cultures to the nation's first gold rush.
Our natural areas support an ecotourism industry that is one of the fastest-growing tourism segments and brings in more than $7 billion annually to our state. More than 10 million people visit our state parks annually, and Georgia is the nation's top destination for out-of-state hunters.
DNR also protects 13 historic sites statewide ranging from presidential homes to ancient Indian mounds that provide both education and entertainment.
One of the newest outdoor adventures in our state parks is geocaching. It's like a treasure hunt played with a GPS device. You find the coordinates online, then set out to find the hidden caches. There are more than a million active caches around the world, and the new Georgia State Parks Geo-Challenge offers a creative way for families to explore parts of Georgia that they had not seen before.
Whatever the activity, we want people to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in the outdoors, and to be a part of protecting and conserving our resources. Across the state, activities at our 63 state parks and historic sites, as well as at wildlife management and public fishing areas, offer unparalleled opportunities for hiking, paddling, camping, fishing, picnicking, biking, wildlife watching, cultural enrichment and much more. Visit www.gadnr.org for more information.
We also know that finances are tight in many Georgians' homes, and our facilities offer a budget-friendly way to take a break this summer.
So whatever adventure you choose, be a part of National Tourism Week and celebrate by visiting a part of Georgia you've never explored. DNR's facilities are affordable and family friendly, making it easy for all of us to be tourists.
Chris Clark, commissioner
of Natural Resources
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