Friday,  January 27, 2023  11:34 pm

Savannah: southern hospitality, Canadian value

Savannah: southern hospitality, Canadian value
Tracy Vaughan, director of business development and international accounts tourism, Explore Georgia; Simona Cercel, manager, tourism and sales development, Air Canada; Lisa Love, director of music marketing and development at the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Joseph Marinelli, president, Visit Savannah.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Momofuku means "Lucky Peach", and perhaps no other venue in Toronto was more appropriate than culinary hotspot Momofuku restaurant last night as representatives from the Peach State, Visit Savannah and Explore Georgia, hosted members of the media and trade partners at an intimate gathering in a joint venture with Air Canada.

Despite the chill in Toronto last night, guests experienced the warmth of the south—and we're not just talking about the fried chicken bites and Peach Fizz drinks, although both gave a glimpse into the culinary offerings that would tempt any foodie across the border.

Treated to a special Georgia-inspired musical performance by Toronto's very own The Command Sisters, and IIIrd Tyme Out featuring bluegrass musicians Russell Moore and Wayne Benson, as well as a riveting folktale reading by Jonah McDonald, it's safe to say we all had Georgia on our minds last night.

 IIIrd Tyme Out featuring bluegrass musicians Russell Moore and Wayne Benson

Savannah: not just a pit-stop to Florida

Tourism to Savannah is growing steadily, partly due to a strong partnership with Air Canada, but also driven by the desire of many Canadian families to vacation differently.

"In 2017, Savannah saw just over 14 million visitors to our city, and the largest international feeder market for us is Canada, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, and France," said Joseph Marinelli, president, Visit Savannah. "Since forever, people have been driving from this part of Canada, heading south to get to Florida, and they drive right past Savannah, and wonder, 'what's Savannah about, should we stop'? Now, with the non-stop flights available from Air Canada, it really makes it easy to come down."

According to Marinelli, approximately 10 to 12 per cent of Savannah's visitation is international, and the largest and most significant part of that data is Canadian. "Of the 14.1 visitors, eight million overnight, and 6.1 million are daytrippers, people who are vacationing nearby and come up [to Savannah] for a day trip," he said.

Erica Backus, director, public relations, Visit Savannah; Joseph Marinelli, president, Visit Savannah

Daily, direct service from Toronto

Air Canada continues to be the only airline offering non-stop daily service to Savannah on the CRJ100 aircraft. Seasonal routes to Savannah wrapped up in October, and will commence once more in March 2019.

"Air Canada currently serves Georgia with five times daily service between Toronto and Atlanta, while offering competitive connectivity to and from Europe and Asia, as well as great local timings for the local market, said Steve Goodfellow, director of sales, Eastern Canada, Air Canada. "Our Embraer E-75 aircraft to Atlanta offers both Business class and Economy service, and on May 31 last year, we had our inaugural flight to Savannah. "This route performed very well this season, and our goal is to have this route operating full-service year-round, and then the next step will be to upgrade the aircraft," Goodfellow said. "We'll continue to work very closely with our travel partners both here in Canada and the U.S."

According to Marinelli, Explore Georgia has been courting a number of Canadian airlines for a few years, and are have recently been talking to several other Canadian airlines in the hopes of expanding service in the near future.

Steve Goodfellow, director of sales, Eastern Canada, Air Canada; Flemming Friisdahl, founder, The Travel Agent Next Door

Things to do

A cultural hotspot, both Erica Backus, director of public relations, Visit Savannah, and Marinelli agree there's no shortage of things for Canadians to do once they get to Savannah. From discovering the tastes of Georgia, to taking in the popular bluegrass music scene; to uncovering a deeper history of the state and its involvement with the Civil Rights Movement by visiting museums and participating in walking tours, there's always something happening in Savannah.

But, a trip to Savannah, Georgia, wouldn't be complete without trying at least one of the state's noted dishes, and craft cocktails.

"Craft cocktails are becoming a big scene for us, and about two years ago we opened the American Prohibition Museum, and here, you can enjoy a few different speakeasy's," explained Backus. 

And, the one dish you can't leave without trying?

"Well, I had poutine today," Backus joked, "but definitely the fried green tomatoes, and a nice piece of fresh seafood."