Presented by the Bartow County Hospitality Association and Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the offering will help familiarize area residents and representatives of the tourism and hospitality industry with the treasures in their backyard from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Departing and ending at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, the bus tour will visit Barnsley Gardens Resort, Bartow Beach and Allatoona Lake Visitor Center, Allatoona Pass Battlefield, Booth Western Art Museum, Tellus Science Museum, Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, downtown Cartersville, Euharlee’s covered bridge and museum and the historic downtowns of Kingston and Adairsville.
“I’m a huge believer and promoter in all that Bartow County has to offer,” said Tara Currier, manager of the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority and co-founder of the local Hospitality Association. “So I want people to hopefully learn something that maybe they did not know about our county.
“And more than anything I want them to be able to go and promote all of the wonderful attractions that we have in the county to their friends and family, so that ultimately we can have more people coming to our community and spending money and visiting these great attractions.”
Speaking from experience, Currier hopes people take advantage of this opportunity to visit different aspects of the community. Even though they may be lifelong residents of Bartow, their view of their county still can be broadened by the upcoming Gem Tour.
“I have lived in this community my entire life and actually when I went through Leadership Bartow with the Chamber of Commerce many years ago that was my first ever experience visiting Noble Hill and my first ever experience visiting Valley View,” Currier said. “So I thought that I had seen everything [in] the community when I went through the [chamber’s program] and got introduced to places I hadn’t heard of. But when we went through the ... tour with the Hospitality Association last February and visited Allatoona Pass, I regret to say that was the first time that I had ever been there. But obviously, it was a wonderful experience to take part and have that opportunity to visit an attraction I had never been to in my own backyard.
“There are so many hidden gems in this community that people don’t know about. ... To get a sneak peek into the galleries of some of these museums and to visit places like Allatoona Pass ... [and other attractions] you know are here and maybe you’ve driven by but to have an opportunity to actually step inside and step out into these great areas is really going to open people’s eyes and give them the opportunity to then share with others the beauty that we have here in our own community.”
With the tour presented during National Tourism Month, Regina Wheeler — deputy director for the local CVB — is looking forward to highlighting some of Bartow’s top attractions. The venues are a key factor in drawing visitors to the county, which received $137.75 million from domestic tourism expenditures in 2011, ranking Bartow 23rd in the state.
“We’re very proud of that ranking,” Wheeler said. “The only community in the current northwest Georgia region, which is 17 counties, that outranks us is Cherokee County. But they also double us in the number of residents that live there and in some of the facets that they poll and use for these studies — such as restaurant dining for instance and gas, transportation — of course, those are going to be skewed by counties with a large population. ... Within those counties on 1-75, we outrank all the others.
“... There are a lot of special and unique attractions here. I think many [people] do know that. We want others to know that as well and we want those numbers to grow.”
Since space is limited in the tour, reservations need to be placed by May 22. Tickets, costing $20 per attendee, will cover admission, transportation and lunch at Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse in Euharlee.
For more information or to place reservations, call the CVB at 770-387-1357.