New Yorkers Viranch Trivedi and Hui Wang could have gone anywhere they wanted for a recent long weekend getaway. The couple chose Clayton County, Ga.
Wang is a big Gone With The Wind fan, so the financial analysts felt Clayton would give them their ultimate GWTW fix. Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell based her Civil War romance novel on stories she heard while visiting Clayton County relatives – many of whom lived through and fought in the war.
“I read (the book) countless times, including in Mandarin Chinese,” Wang, 28, said standing out in front of The Road to Tara Museum with boyfriend Trivedi. The museum and welcome center are in an old train depot in downtown Jonesboro.
During their quick getaway to Clayton, the couple took in the museum, the nearby Warren House and Stately Oaks plantation as well as the van tour of the Confederate cemetery, jail, and other historic locales. They also drove into Atlanta to visit the Margaret Mitchell House. The couple was among more than a dozen visitors at the museum on a recent Saturday. The Road to Tara Museum, with its hoop skirts and Old South memorabilia, drew people from as far away as Denmark this particular day.
“It’s fantastic. I felt like it was connecting the movie and story so next time we see it we know (the history),” said Trivedi, 33, also a financial analyst.
“It’s my first time in the South. It’s really fun. The weather’s nice and the people are nice,” Wang said.
The couple’s words are music to Tamara Patridge’s ears. Patridge is executive director of Clayton Tourism and Film.
Tourism and Film – Big Boost for Clayton
Clayton is one of metro Atlanta’s five core counties, and tourism is a major economic boost to the county of about 270,000.
Tourism generated nearly $1.5 billion in Clayton in 2018, up 2.15 percent from the previous year. A good bit of that money came from tourists from overseas seeking the GWTW experience. Gone With The Wind is Clayton’s top tourism draw, attracting thousands of people annually, most of whom are from overseas locales such as China and Denmark.
While Patridge, who assumed the helm of Clayton Tourism and Film last fall, is pleased with the international visitors, she wants to expand and update Clayton’s potential tourism market.
For that reason, Clayton’s Tourism and Film is in the midst of a major rebranding campaign that Patridge hopes will draw more American visitors to Clayton with a broader array of attractions.
Patridge wants to tie the county’s tourism more closely to Georgia’s film industry. In the past five years, Georgia has become the number one film-making state in the nation, and Clayton has become a key county in providing the global film and entertainment industry with options.
In addition to Gone With The Wind, Clayton is home to The National Archives at Atlanta (the name is a bit of a misnomer since the archive is in Morrow) as well as the Georgia Archives. Clayton is believed to be the only community in the nation with co-existing state and national archives, Patridge said.
One way to boost Clayton’s tourism offerings is by creating a film festival in the county, Patridge said. She envisions the festival complementing the Bronze Lens and Jewish film festivals in Atlanta. It would also be a way of letting the filmmakers and the public know of Clayton’s already-thriving film production business.
“We have plans to incorporate some of that film production into the overall Film Clayton experience,” she said. “We want to offer tourism that’s current and relevant to our booming film industry.”
CLAYTON COUNTY TOURISM: At A Glance
Economic Impact (direct visitor spending): $1.473 billion ( up 2.15% last year)
Tourism Jobs: 34,783
Payroll: $2.451 billion from tourism jobs
Local Sales Tax Generated: $44.47 million
State Sales Tax Generated: $176.95 million
Household Tax Relief: $2,417 savings per household
Source: The U.S. Travel Association and The Georgia Department of Economic Development
Top Tourist Attractions in Clayton
- Clayton International Park, also known as “The Beach”, Jonesboro
- The Road to Tara Museum, downtown Jonesboro
- The National Archives at Atlanta and the Georgia Archives. Both archives are in Morrow.
- Stately Oaks, an historical plantation in Jonesboro
Source: Clayton County Tourism and Film
Pictured: Viranch Trivedi and Hui Wang, standing in front of The Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Ga