After much consideration and negotiating, effective immediately, the City of Douglas has entered into an agreement with the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce to carry out the functions of Main Street, the Douglas Visitor Information Center, and tourism-related events and festivals. Since the formation 1989, Tourism and Main Street have been under the administration of the City of Douglas. In 2018, the City received noticed that laws had changed on the way local governments can expend portions of the hotel-excise tax, which led to seeking out a local 501(C)6 entity, the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce, to contract out these tourism related responsibilities.
“Over the years, the community has looked at the city to act as a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) through tourism and the Douglas Visitor Center, along with organizing and producing community events and festivals for Douglas and Coffee County,” said Charles Davis, City Manager. “With this new intergovernmental contract, the city will be able to focus more on government services and the promotion of these services to our citizens. We realize tourism is a vital asset to economic growth and that is why we entered into a contract with the Chamber of Commerce. We’re confident that our local Chamber is a great match for the Main Street program, as they are better suited to steer retail retention and development throughout downtown. All future endeavors to market Douglas and Coffee County to visitors is now the responsibility of the Douglas – Coffee County Chamber of Commerce.”
In the latter part of the year, the Chamber released an official announcement to the public, announcing Mr. Dave Hughes, local business owner, as the Main Street manager. Hughes replaces Pattie Parker, who remains an employee of the City of Douglas in another capacity. The Chamber is no novice whenever it comes to event planning. Back in the fall, they assumed the role of organizing the Hometown Harvest event, with a different twist, and also coordinated the annual tree lighting ceremony. Hughes is the lead organizer of the First Friday promotions for downtown and is working closely with the Downtown Merchants Association to strategize on increased foot traffic in downtown. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Chamber held a ribbon cutting for the new location of the Regional Visitor Information Center, which is located inside the lobby of the Chamber, serving as the DMO for Douglas and Coffee County. Ms. Jennifer Chilton, receptionist for the Chamber, now serves as the receptionist and Visitor Center manager.
The purpose of the DMO is to encourage tourism, meetings and expositions in the Coffee County area. In the past, the City of Douglas organized traditional events such as the South Georgia BBQ & Outdoor Festival, Summer Beach Bash, Hometown Harvest, and the Christmas parade.
“The City of Douglas wants the public to know that nothing is set in stone as to whether or not the Chamber will continue with the aforementioned events,” says Georgia Henderson, Community Development Director. “What we do know is the Chamber is working with a consultant to produce events that will draw visitors to Douglas. At their discretion, the Chamber will name the events and share details with the general public.”
From this point forward, any questions regarding Main Street, the Visitor Information Center, Tourism, Events, and Festivals should be directed to the Chamber of Commerce by calling (912) 384-1873 or visit www.DouglasGA.org.
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