A 10-member team from the Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division will be in Toccoa later this week, helping the city with ideas to boost tourism activity in the area.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division developed an initiative in 2009 to send Tourism Product Development Resource teams into communities all over Georgia, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, Toccoa becomes one of the latest entities to take advantage of the program.
Cindy Eidson, the Director of Tourism Product Development, said in a phone interview that the visit on March 7 and 8 will lay the groundwork for a team report.
"[Team members] will be taking notes, they're asking questions of locals about the product, what they say they made need assistance with...so we're just assessing the whole product while we're on our visit," Eidson said.
Eidson said Toccoa officials have a list of sites for the resource team to see.
"We will be visiting Camp Toccoa...the Currahee Vineyards, we'll also go to Traveler's Rest State Park," said Eidson of the Tuesday itinerary.
On Wednesday, team members will see the Ritz Theater at the Schaefer Center in downtown Toccoa as well as Toccoa Falls, among other sites.
The team is comprised of representatives from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Council for the Arts, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Department of Agriculture, cohort communities from across the state and private consultants.
Eidson said Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, will participate in the Toccoa visit. Wilson is from the Toccoa area, according to Eidson.
The city of Toccoa went through the same process other communities have, according to Eidson, requesting the state send a Resource Team for assessment.
"Right now, we have about 35 communities that are in different phases within this process, so Toccoa [has been working through the process] for a while and now they're able to host this team," Eidson said.
When the visit to Toccoa is complete, then the team sits down to discuss assets in the community that can be enhanced and possible features that might be good to develop for generating more tourism business. Once they have a report ready to go - within about 60 to 90 days - then the team will make a formal presentation to the community. That date, said Eidson, will be publicized in advance so community leaders and citizens can see and hear what recommendations the team has.
Eidson said other communities in the North Georgia area that have taken advantage of the Resource Teams are Banks, Hall and White counties. She said the Resource Team that assessed the South Hall area will conduct a formal presentation later in March.