McDuffie steps up as new Tourism Director

  • New Tourism Director Sam McDuffie has hit the ground running to begin promoting Dahlonega in fresh ways to potential visitors.
    New Tourism Director Sam McDuffie has hit the ground running to begin promoting Dahlonega in fresh ways to potential visitors.
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Tourism could be Dahlonega's new gold rush, if you ask Sam McDuffie.
The former director of the Dahlonega Gold Museum is now utilizing his many years of experience to help move the town forward in the critical tourism industry.
"What can I do on a daily basis to make a difference?"
This is the question McDuffie is asking himself these days.
He said he has made it a habit to attend local meetings, such as the innkeepers association among others.
McDuffie said he has always been in love with Dahlonega ever since he and his wife lived here previously in 2004-2006 when he worked at Amicalola Falls State Park.
After spending several years at the Dahlonega Gold Museum—including overseeing a half-million dollar complete renovation—he came to realize he wanted to have a impact on the bigger picture of local tourism.
Now he is doing just that as a member of the Chamber team.
"This [position] will help me learn more about my community," McDuffie said.
One of his main tasks is to promote events like this weekend's Trailfest, and the Six Gap Century later this month, in addition to festivals throughout the year.
"Dahlonega has been featured in many different magazines," he pointed out. "The week of July 4th a travel writer spent the week with us. So now Dahlonega will be featured in four issues of "The Florida Villager."
In addition, a writer from Ocala Style magazine visited recently to work on an article with the theme of "girls weekend out," McDuffie said.
He said one of the main goals is get visitors to spend the night in Dahlonega. "I want to understand where visitors are coming from," McDuffie said.
The importance of tourism on the local economy is evident to McDuffie.
Using the latest batch of statistics (2017) he said in Lumpkin County direct tourists spent $42 million.
"This corresponded to local tax revenue of $1 million," McDuffie added.
In the same year, tourism supported 344 jobs in areas such as wineries, restaurants, hotels, downtown retail, tourists attractions, he pointed out.
McDuffie said he is also working on becoming a good communication hub between UNG and local businesses in hospitality or events in Dawsonville to catch the overflow guests who need to spend the night in local hotels.
He is also revamping the Chamber's online presence.
"It's all about finding the right content," he said. "In today's world 90 percent of traffic to our website is via mobile phone. If you have a mobile friendly site you get more views."
Online improvements will include blogs (specific ones for baby boomers, millennials, adults with college kids).
In addition, YouTube vlogs and Pinterest will see new content about Dahlonega.