When someone asks Melanie Green about a good place to eat in McDuffie County, the front desk clerk at Holiday Inn Express recommends from a short list.
"If they are looking for a good restaurant, we always tell them to go across the street to the Plantation House," she said. "If they need anything else, I give them directions to Augusta."
And that's a trend members of the Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Board are trying to curb.
"We try to keep the front desk person from shrugging their shoulders and saying 'There's nothing around here, you've gotta go to Augusta,'" said Epp Wilson, owner of the Best Western White Columns Inn. "They answer like that every time. It's like trying to break a hound dog off of a running deer."
Board members are considering a series of options for teaching clerks in hotels, gas stations, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores more about McDuffie County's amenities so they can better make recommendations to travelers. Suggestions were made to invite people to promote their business in a classroom setting, or to hold a lunch and have a slide show that explains different places. While no final decision has been made, Board Chairman Tommy Samuels said "it will definitely be discussed further at the next meeting. ’¶ It's a need in our community."
Mr. Samuels said Thomson has the opportunity to interact with interstate traffic because there are two exits off of I-20. He said the "community has so much to offer, many sights that are worthy to look at."
Historical sights around Thomson include Hickory Hill, Historic Wrightsboro, The Rock House, Watson Brown Foundation, McDuffie Museum. Recreational opportunities include boating, camping, and swimming at Clarks Hill Lake; and hunting and wildlife watching at Clarks Hill and Germany Creek Wildlife Management.
Mr. Wilson said he also encourages people to shop at the antique stores and unique shops around Thomson.
"First I ask them what their interests are, then I try to help them find something like that," said Donna Bradshaw, clerk at White Columns Inn. "Most people are looking for antiques, and I also tell them about the movie theater and restaurants. But I do give them directions to Augusta a lot, also."