The City of Thomasville tourism office recently welcomed the first annual Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville (STET). The new travel conference recognized as ‘an educational vacation with a true Southern experience’ took place February 21st-23rd at South Eden Plantation.
“It was an honor for Thomasville to be chosen as the inaugural location for the Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville conference,” said Bonnie Hayes, City of Thomasville tourism manager. “Through their many social media channels, blogs, magazine articles and freelance writing, travel writers have the opportunity to influence their followers and readers to visit our city.”
Melody Pittman and Taylor Hardy, a mother-daughter duo who co-own and write multi-gen resource travel guides for Wherever I May Roam Blog and Travel the South Bloggers, hosted the three-day multi-faceted event. The travel writer duo traveled to the Rose City over three years ago and quickly fell in love. “We initially hosted Melody and Taylor over three years ago,” said Hayes. “Our community truly had an impact on them during their visit. They fell in love with the Southern hospitality and charm that you find in Thomasville, continually sharing and discussing their many positive experiences thru their various platforms.”
During their stay, the attendees were treated to a true Thomasville experience. Attendees were welcomed with a Friday afternoon cocktail reception complete with live music. On Saturday morning, the keynote speaker was Patricia Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times Bestselling book, 1000 Places to See Before Die who shared her travel tips and favorite locations that she’s traveled in the United States. Saturday afternoon they enjoyed guided tours of Pebble Hill Plantation, Taste of Thomasville Food Tour and wine tasting at Farmers Daughter Wine Tasting Room. In the evening, the writers were treated to another reception hosted by a local business, where divided into groups before savoring the great tastes of Jonah’s Fish and Grits, Liam’s or Sweet Grass Dairy.
Hayes commented on the positive praise that was shared by the attendees. “They were effusive in their praise of what they experienced, from the variety of fine dining, to the look and feel of our downtown, to the level of historic preservation throughout the city.”
These types of events have the opportunity to lead to extensive media coverage and highlights throughout the year, all of which will have a positive economic impact on Thomasville’s bottom line. “Tourism has a financial impact that most aren't fully aware of,” said Hayes. “Our recent numbers show that direct tourist spending in Thomasville was $77.29 million dollars. These travelers help support 660 jobs and create $15.53 million in payroll.” Tourism dollars even have a further impact on locals. “According the figures from the Georgia Tourism office, each Thomas County household would need to taxed an additional $312 to replace the taxes generated by tourism,” said Hayes.
Hosting events in Thomasville, such as STET have the ability to open more exposure to the area. “It's important for our office to continue bringing in travel writers to see and experience our community,” continued Hayes. “Recent trends in advertising show that personal recommendations, particularly for travel, are more influential than the typical advertising methods.”
“Thomasville is a special place with an enormous amount of history and character that speaks to and inspires travel writers of all ages,” said Hayes. “You never know when hosting a writer what they will write, the reaction that their article will create, or the return you can expect on your investment. In this case, the initial investment from the visit by Melody and Taylor will pay better than expected dividends for Thomasville, as we truly expect these travel writers will be returning to Thomasville.”
For more information, call the Thomasville Visitors Center at 229-228-7977 or visit thomasvillega.com.
Pictured above: Travel Writers attend Educational Session