The City of Thomasville tourism office is celebrating National Tourism Week by turning the tables and inviting locals to become “visitors” in their own hometown.
“Thomasville is a unique community brimming with fun and fascinating things to see and do. Often as a local, we forget about our local attractions, and this is the best time to experience what makes our town so unique,” says Bonnie Hayes, City of Thomasville tourism director.
National Travel Tourism Week is May 5-11th, and is being promoted across the country to show how tourism has a definite impact on the economy, both locally and nationally through job creation. The U.S. Travel Association credits tourism with supporting 1 out of 10 jobs nationally. Locally, over 635 jobs are supported through tourism.
The theme of this year’s National Travel Tourism Week, “Travel Matters,” highlights the innumerable ways in which travel supports the fabric of a city’s culture and economy. Each day, the national office will celebrate a different facet of travel: the economy, new experiences, jobs, infrastructure, health benefits, and hometown price while also highlighting how travel strengthens families.
“We all know that a great trip relaxes us, and can bring a family closer together,” says Hayes. “This week, we want to invite our local citizens to see Thomasville as a place to discover and enjoy. Try something new and share it with those you love. You won’t have to pack your bags to find relaxation or a great time, it’s already right here!”
Pebble Hill Plantation is extending a 20% discount on admission tickets to local residents to help encourage locals to discover their community. Whitney White, Pebble Hill’s Executive Director, hopes this will encourage local residents to come stroll the grounds and take a tour of the Main House. “We often take for granted the sites in our own town that visitors travel miles to see. We are extending the discount from May 7-12 and hope residents will come out and enjoy all that Pebble Hill has to offer.”
The Thomasville History Center and the Lapham Patterson House are opening their doors as well to locals and offering an incentive to visit. Local residents can have a self-guided tour for only $4 and guided tours at the Lapham Patterson House for $6.
Anne McCudden, Executive Director of the Thomasville History Center, hopes this will be a good incentive to visit these historical landmarks. “By visiting the History Center and the Lapham Patterson House, it keeps history relevant. When you visit our sites, you immerse yourself in the rich and fascinating stories that are distinctly Thomasville.”
Jack Hadley, owner and curator of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum, wants locals to stop in to visit his museum, “I have collected items representing the historic achievements of black leaders and each one tells its own story. People come from all over the country to learn the history behind some of these people, who all have a connection to Thomasville.”
As an incentive to visit, the Jack Hadley Black History Museum is offering one free admission for each adult or child admission purchased. Also, all active duty military and their family can enjoy free admission through Saturday.
Noting that food is often the catalyst for visiting a region, Debra Smith of the Taste of Thomasville Food Tour is offering a discount code that will give Thomas County residents 20% off of their tour if they book by May 11th. Those wanting to learn more about the city’s history while sampling delicious bites at multiple downtown restaurants should enter staycation19 when they purchase their tickets online at tasteofthomasvillefoodtour.com.
Hayes says that Tourism in Thomasville isn’t bound to just one time of year or a season. “Thomasville was known in the early 1900’s as the ‘Winter resort of the south’ due to its mild climate and being the terminus of the railroad. Once the rail system progressed into Florida, Thomasville saw a decline in its booming tourism business.” Fast forward about 100 years, and tourism is alive and well, with over $71 million being spent in Thomasville and Thomas County in direct tourist spending just last year. Through this, $2 million was generated for local taxes, and tourism created $14 million in local payroll.
Hayes says that visitors to Thomasville come all year long, rather than only certain times of the year. “Tourism is a quiet industry that few people even realize we are promoting. Unlike other cities with major theme parks or those such as a ski or a beach resort with a defined travel season, Thomasville is a town that attracts thousands of visitors, who shop, dine, and visit attractions throughout the year.”
Knowing that Thomasville is indeed a unique community full of natural and historical treasures, Hayes wants to invite locals to see the city from a visitor’s perspective. “Visits to the museums, a historical plantation or a Victorian House are just the beginning. Visitors come from all over to see the 1500 rose bushes in the Rose Garden, and have their photo taken at the Big Oak. Families enjoy trips downtown to challenge one another to a game of ‘Hunt the Lost Quail,’ where they seek out 18 quail statues hidden in plain sight all throughout the downtown shopping and dining area.”
Hayes thinks this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our city. “Vacation time may not start until school is out for some families in Thomasville, but there is no reason families can’t come see our local attractions this weekend, especially since they are right here and so many of them are free!”
The reduced rates for tours are only available this week through Saturday, and proof of residency is required. For more information about local attractions and events, visit Thomasvillega.com. Stay up to date on local events and happenings by joining our ‘This Week In Thomasville’ mailing list by clicking the ‘calendar’ tab and following the prompts. To learn more about what to see and do in Thomasville, call the Visitors Center at 229-228-7977.