For Ga. 400 commuters, the highway often can seem more like a parking lot than a major thoroughfare.
While a source of weekday stress for so many, the road also known as Hospitality Highway can lead to happiness.
At least, that’s what the seven partner communities along Ga. 400 are banking on with the new slogan, “A smile in every mile.”
The hospitality organization, which includes the seven communities from Buckhead to Dahlonega, is using the slogan for its annual brochure, highlighting the attractions each exit of Ga. 400 has to offer.
“People are spending money and traveling and having fun, and if they’re having fun, they’re smiling,” said Janet Rodgers, president and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“If you get off on any of our seven communities and you do any of the attractions or you see any of the special events or the cultural events up and down the highway, you’ll smile. You’ll have fun. And that’s what tourism is all about.”
Forsyth County is ideally positioned along the corridor, said Mary Helen McGruder, chair of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s tourism committee.
“Ga. 400 is the connection from the sophistication of the Buckhead area to the rural wineries of north Georgia and luckily we’re located right in the center of it,” she said.
Rodgers said she understands the frustration over the recent extension of the Ga. 400 toll that was set to expire. She also knows there’s heavy traffic during the morning and evening rush hours. But the smile slogan, she said, is “totally separate.”
“We’ve heard people who talk on the traffic or the toll on Ga. 400, but the idea behind this is you take Ga. 400 but you get off at every exit,” she said. “We want Ga. 400 to be known as the corridor that gets them to all of the things we have to offer.”
The brochures aren’t just for tourists, Rodgers said. They’re also popular among new residents learning what the communities have to offer.
“When you encourage people to visit your attractions, it helps all of us,” she said.
“We’re also a model for other regions because it’s very unusual for the communities, who would normally be competing with each other for the travel business, to band together as we’ve done to promote ourselves as a region without the individual competition,” she said. “When one of us benefits, we all benefit.”