State officials feel sure the seminar on Heritage Tourism scheduled for July 28 and 29 in Thomson will fill up, offering the town a chance to showcase its historic sites to about 70 participants from across the state.
Thomson was selected as a host site for one of four state-wide seminars on Heritage Tourism as first reported in The McDuffie Mirror, Feb. 24.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show the town," said Gerald Baygents, director of tourism for Thomson-McDuffie.
Participants will meet in the Fellowship Hall of the First Baptist Church for a series of meetings on subjects like developing, marketing and packaging heritage tourism products. In addition, the seminar will focus on what heritage travelers are looking for and the need to maintain historical and architectural authenticity, according to Bruce Green, tourism product development manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Mr. Green, who has toured Thomson twice in preparation for the seminar, said the town's beautiful architecture and rich history led officials to choose it as one of four sites across the state.
Several local members of the Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Board have expressed interest in attending the seminar to gather more information on how to best showcase the many historic areas in the county.
Mr. Green said researchers from the Travel Industry Association shows heritage travelers to be well-educated individuals who stay longer and spend more than average tourists. They especially value authenticity, so there is great potential for a genuinely historic area like Thomson to catch the attention of those travelers.
Georgia Tourism Deputy Commissioner Janis Cannon will be among the distinguished attendees at the seminar along with Patrick Brennen of Georgia Trust and Ray Luce of the Georgia Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Natural Resources. Ms. Cannon visited Thomson earlier this year when she served as keynote speaker for the annual Thomson-McDuffie County Tourism retreat.