Visitors center celebrates 40 years
Published 5:45 pm Friday, June 7, 2019
WEST POINT – The West Point Visitor Information Center opened its doors to the public in December 1979, and since then it has welcomed countless visitors to the area.
On Friday, the center celebrated its time in the community and was recognized by West Point Mayor Steve Trammell for its impact on the area. A variety of tourist destinations from both the Troup County area and other parts of the state joined together at the center to celebrate its 40 year anniversary.
“This is our ‘Georgia on My Mind Day,’” said Rebecca Clopp, the manager of the West Point, Georgia Visitor Information Center. “Each center celebrates one day a year, and it is just to celebrate our partners and to celebrate those people coming through. It gives the partners an opportunity to be out in front of the public one on one, so they can talk directly to them.”
The West Point Visitor Information Center sees about 800,000 visitors a year, according to Clopp. In all, visitor’s centers in Georgia see about 13 million visitors a year.
“We try to get people to stay in Georgia for as long as possible, so sometimes when they are coming through, they are just passing through,” Clopp said. “What we do is we engage, and then as we engage, we figure out what they like and where they are headed to. We give them things that they can do in Georgia that keeps them here longer, and hopefully, makes them want to return.”
In 2018, $66.2 billion was generated by the state tourism industry from business sales. The attractions within 30 minutes of the West Point center see regular traffic, and Clopp said local tourist destinations have proven to be great tourism partners.
“Us having such a great relationship with LaGrange tourism is wonderful because they cover West Point and Hogansville — the whole Troup County area,” Clopp said. “Also, Harris County and Pine Mountain are so close. We have such great assets just right here off the next exit. Riverbend Winery is a wonderful partner of ours. They are less than 5 miles from here. Chattabrewchee is a new one that is a veteran-owned brewery, and they are a huge partner of ours. We sene people there every day.”
Representatives from those local tourist attractions said that visitors often report hearing about them from the visitor center.
“We get tons of people that come from this location,” said Amanda Hughes of Riverbend Winery said. “They send them out to us all the time. Our booth stays here year-round, so everybody can see that we are here.”
Visitors also travel a few miles further to LaGrange to see some of its attractions as well.
“They have been wonderful advocates for us,” said Christy Gresley, the communications manager at Hills & Dales. “Our window cling is on the front window here, and so with all the traffic that comes through, they’ve been really great ambassadors to send visitors our way.”
According to local tourist attractions, events like Friday’s celebration serve to further increase awareness for tourist attractions throughout the state.
“Events like this are what helps get awareness out about all the surrounding areas — the things to go and see and do,” said Martha Lopez from Butts Mill Farm. “It just helps develop tourism throughout the whole state of Georgia.”
Clopp said that visitors are often surprised by the filming locations from major shows and movies that they can visit in Georgia.