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TV Shows Pump Local Economy

TV shows pump local economy In Covington Georgia, known as the Hollywood of the South, a tradition established in the 1970s with the hit series “The Dukes of Hazard” and continuing in the late 1980s/early 1990s with “In the Heat of the Night,” moves forward with the filming of the CW Network’s “The Vampire Diaries” in the Newton County community. Covington doubles for Mystic Falls, Va., the fictional town where the series, now in its third season, takes place. And that role has drawn inquiries and visitors from 42 states and 30 countries, reports Clara Deemer, director of tourism for the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce. “People want to see where Elena’s and Caroline’s homes are, and they want to see downtown Covington — because to them, we are Mystic Falls.” Businesses that have sprung up and/or grown here as a result of “Vampire Diaries” include Mystic Falls Tours, which, according to Deemer, runs as many as three combination walking/van tours daily, usually with 10 to 12 tourists in tow. Places to eat in Covington are helped by the filming as well.  Downtown Covington eateries, such as Square Perk Café, Bradley’s Bar-B-Que, Plain Nuts Catering and Amici Café all benefit when “Vampire Diaries” is in town filming, Deemer said. “The crew typically brings in their own union caterers, but sometimes when they are filming very late at night or doing some prep work, they eat at our downtown restaurants.” Filming of “Vampire Diaries” has coincided with an increase in visitors to Covington Ga. and Newton County. Visitation increased by some 6,000, from 13,000-plus in 2010 to 19,000-plus in 2011, Deemer said, and that has boosted local lodging business. “It is all positive,” said Navin Shah, president of Royal Hotel Investment, whose holdings include the Hampton Inn Covington. Production of the series and the resulting tourism does make a difference in occupancy, said Shah. “But it’s more than about the money,” he said. Hotel employees are thrilled to meet members of the cast and crew, he said, “And the show brings a true sense of excitement in and around Covington.” Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
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