Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at email@example.com.
Atlanta continued its string of bad showings in Travel + Leisure magazine’s annual America’s Favorite Cities rankings this year.
The city has never fared particularly well in the annual rankings of 35 American cities, but this year was especially bad for Georgia’s capital. The rankings, for the uninformed, are determined by the results of surveys filled out by Travel + Leisure readers from around the world. If a reader lives in one of the cities included in the survey, his or her votes for that particular city are counted separately from non-residents.
And, people who don’t live in Atlanta don’t like the city. It’s especially obvious when Atlanta is compared to some of the closest southern cities also included survey — Savannah and arch-rival Charlotte, N.C.
For starters, Atlanta had 46 bottom-10 finishes, and only one top-10 finish. That one top-10 finish was a number 10 ranking for barbecue. It was marred by next-to-last showings in safety and free attractions. Other areas where Atlanta ranked low included driving ability, intelligent people, cultural getaway, family vacation, romantic escape, music scene, cocktail lounges, museums and street performers.
By comparison, Savannah had 44 top-10 rankings and only two bottom-10 rankings. Those top-10 showings include number 1 rankings in several categories, including charming local accent, peace and quiet and cool buildings and architecture.
Meanwhile, Charlotte had 29 top-10 rankings and five bottom-10 rankings. It finished number one for romantic escapes and fine-dining restaurants. It also had number 2 finishes for antique stores and people who are proud of their city. But, it also ranked near the bottom of the lists for most sports-crazed city and sports bars.
It might be time for Atlanta to take a cold, hard look at itself. Tourists don’t want to come here, and the city can’t expect to bring in big tourism dollars if tourists don’t want to come here.
And, that impacts tourism in the communities that surround Atlanta because if those tourists surveyed won’t come to the big city, then they are not going to visit Jonesboro or McDonough either.
It is time for metro Atlanta to start selling itself to outsiders based on everything there is to do in the region, and not just in Atlanta. The area’s leaders also need to try selling the area to the people who live in the area because the view Atlanta area residents had of the city in this survey was hardly better than the view tourists had.
But, that can’t be expected to happen any time soon. If there is one lesson which can be taken from the T-SPLOST issue, it’s the fact that metro Atlanta leaders can’t sit down for the betterment of the region without trying to play games based on ego, posturing and one-upmanship.
It was clear, to an extent, that leaders were trying more to promote the interests of their little fiefdoms than the interests of the region.
If they can’t work together in an effective way to solve transportation issues, then they probably can’t be expected to do any better with tourism.
Curt Yeomans is the Senior Reporter for the Clayton News Daily and an avid traveler. He can be reached at 770-478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.