New I-95 Georgia Welcome Center Opens Friday, March 10th

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The new Georgia Welcome Center on Interstate 95 is scheduled to host its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Mar. 10 at 10 a.m. The project has been in the works for more than 10 years.
The old Welcome Center building, which was torn down nearly 14 months ago, was constructed more than 40 years ago. The new building features dramatic cathedral ceilings, an abundance of natural light and a more user-friendly interactive design. Visit Savannah and Visit Tybee, the tourism destination marketing organizations for both communities, have both made significant investments in the new displays which are intended to inspire visitors traveling southbound on I-95 to visit both popular destinations. Some of the display features include life-size live oaks and palm trees draped with Spanish moss, large video screens offering a sampling of the area’s visitor experience and the opportunity to take a photo next to life-like Forrest Gump on a bench in front of Chippewa Square or driving a trolley.
Although the Welcome Center is owned and managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation and operated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Visit Savannah will have full-time staff working there. “We did a lot of research on welcome centers around the country and found that some states had closed them down completely or had chosen to eliminate all of their operating  staff, “ says Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli. “Instead, we went the other direction by creating a true taste of the coast and believe that we have a one-of-a-kind, best-in-class exhibit that is unmatched anywhere in this country.”
Marinelli also touts the teamwork of all those whose efforts made the project a reality. “On behalf of the hospitality and tourism industry of Savannah, Tybee Island and all of Chatham County, we are extremely pleased to see this new Georgia Welcome Center finally open this year. Our thanks go out to Governor Nathan Deal, Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson, Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry and GDOT District 1 Representative Ann Purcell. This new Welcome Center will attract more visitors and their associated spending all along the Georgia coast before they cross the state line into Florida.”