State News

June 16, 2013

Tour guides on Jekyll Island might need to take test

The Jekyll Island Authority wants to make sure private tour operators are knowledgeable about the island’s history and plans to do so with an ordinance regulating tours.

The ordinance has not been adopted and will be available for public comment during its second reading at the Jekyll Island Authority’s next board meeting, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday.

If adopted, the ordinance would mandate that private tour operators pass a written and oral test and require information disseminated by tour guides to be approved by the authority executive director, currently Jones Hooks, “to ensure accuracy and uniformity of content.”

It’s not about controlling content, said John Hunter, director of historical resources for the authority that operates the state park. It’s about providing consistency.

“Because we do not regulate activities currently, we do not know if the information is accurate or not,” Hunter said. “Our goal is to provide resources for people providing tours that is up to date from a research perspective so they can feel comfortable with the information they are sharing with guests.”

That had been done through informal education in the past, but the proposed ordinance allows it to be done in a more structured fashion.

Hunter says the authority welcomes the growth it has seen in visitations and, in turn, tour operators.

“However, we have seen a growing trend for businesses that are not based on Jekyll offering tours of the island, many times in direct competition with businesses that make investments and commitments to be a part of Jekyll,” Hunter said. “We want to make sure that we are supporting these businesses and amenities, such as the Tidelands Nature Center, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Jekyll Island Museum whose revenues directly support conservation, historic preservation and education programs on the island.”

The proposal also puts other mandates in place designating parking spots, prohibiting use of loudspeakers outside of a vehicle and requiring accidents to be reported to the authority.

Traffic hasn’t become a problem on Jekyll, but the authority wants to make sure it stays that way.

That’s not the case on St. Simons Island. Traffic caused by tour operators is a problem on St. Simons, said Scott McQuade, executive director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau. He added there has been no discussion about implementing testing requirements for tour operators.

He noted that multiple tours will sometimes stop at the same place simultaneously. That causes logistical problems at tourist destinations like Christ Church, which often hosts worship services while tourists take in the historic property.

“These stops aren’t meant to handle the volume of people, as well as the parking and the noise that comes with all of the buses and people,” McQuade said.

He, too, has noticed more tours gaining popularity and plans to organize a group that will tackle the issue.

Parking spots in the popular Pier Village can become few and far between during peak tourist season, he said.

“It begs the question that we might need to put a little more of a process in place to facilitate a more reasonable schedule,” McQuade said.

Glynn County spokeswoman Candice Temple says the county has designated areas in Pier Village for tour busses to park but does not impose any restrictions on the content of tours.

Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014