Covington’s rich filming history and recent successes has landed it a spot as a host city on a state-sponsored tour for international leaders.
Covington will be one of 10 host cities for the state’s annual three-day International VIP Tour, which will take "influential leaders from 26 countries" around cities in northeast Georgia that spotlight tourist successes and traditional economic development.
The leaders will stop by the Mystic Grill Wednesday morning for breakfast and to discuss "Georgia’s booming film industry in Newton County," with presentations by Hunter Hall, president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, and Lee Thomas, division director of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office.
"We are once again excited and honored to put Covington/Newton County on display for the world to see," Hall said in a press release. "Last year we had visitors sign our guest book in the Visitors Center from 33 different counties and 44 different states. People come from all over the world to Covington simply to see where film and TV shows were shot.
"While we know this a pop culture draw, we also know it is a significant economic driver for us that allows us to keep a diversified economic base for the residents of Newton County. To have these VIP delegates in Covington is a great privilege and it is our goal that they will create positive global gossip about Covington."
"Just more brand building and validation of Hollywood of the South," said chamber Tourism Director Jenny McDonald.
The international leaders will then head to SKC, a South Korean-based company that employs 320 people at its Covington plant, which produces a variety of polyester film products, chemical products for foam insulation and film used to coat solar panels.
Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said in a press release that the event provides an opportunity for local communities to network with international leaders.
"This event is a fantastic way to show the international community how our business climate is booming and Georgia’s quality of life is drawing in visitors and investment from across the globe," Carr said.
Abby Turano, chief of protocol for the economic development department, said the tour "shows off a ‘slice’ of Georgia to our Consular Corps." The Consular Corps refers to the diplomatic officials who stay in Georgia at country’s consulates. According to the City of Atlanta’s website, more than 70 foreign governments maintain consulates and/or trade offices in Atlanta.
"The tour is an opportunity to familiarize our VIP Tour guests with destinations they might not have otherwise seen," Turano said. "The mutual benefit is tremendous, as the tour forges long-lasting friendships and business connections."