By Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development
Covington, Newton County | Region 5
There is no doubt that the film industry has had a tremendous impact on Georgia. We have played host to superheroes, villains, warriors, vampires and zombies. The economic impact of TV and film production in the Peach State totals more than $6 billion.
The great notoriety that Georgia has received as a result of the productions filmed here has given rise to a new type of tourist.
These visitors want to see the building where Katniss Everdeen overthrew President Snow in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. They want to walk along the streets of Woodberry made famous in AMC’s The Walking Dead, while avoiding zombies. In Covington, the place known as the Hollywood of the South, Mystic Falls Tours is making sure that visitors are able to really live the movies!
Covington has played host to many iconic television series and films. The Dukes of Hazzard, My Cousin Vinny and In The Heat of the Night were all filmed in and around town. But now, Covington is known for another production: CW’s The Vampire Diaries. Just as with all of the productions listed above, people want to see the places where their favorite movie or show was filmed.
Mystic Falls Tours indulges these visitors with this exact experience while in Covington. For six years, Jessica Lowery and her staff have been taking visitors on tours of the town. Jessica, a former para-professional in the local school system, views these tours as regular field trips with a different class every day!
Mystic Falls Tours entertains tour guests from all over the world. Visitors from Germany, Brazil and many other places all travel to Covington to see where the The Vampire Diaries films. The tours have been so successful that two years ago they were able to branch out and establish a retail store right on the Covington Square. The store, On Location Gifts, sells memorabilia from not only The Vampire Diaries and The Originals but also from all the many other TV shows and movies that have filmed in Covington.
Working closely with the local tourism department, all tours begin and end at the Covington/Newton County Visitors Center. Growth certainly has been good for Mystic Falls Tours, which recently became Hollywood of the South Tours. The company made that jump because they are now doing tours for all of the 80+ productions that have filmed there.
“Growing is a major blessing but with growth comes competition and need for new locations.” –Jessica Lowery, Founder-Owner of Mystic Falls Tours
“Expanding a small business while staying profitable is hard,” she says. “I always want our tours to go the extra mile.”
She also added a little advice to the aspiring small business owner. “Stick with it but be prepared to spend day and night working on it too. Although I love what I do and that I am able to work closely with my family, I also have no personal life. Small businesses are a big deal and take a lot of hard work.”
But with all the hard work and long hours, there are rewards, especially “being successful!”
“I started this business with the hopes it would help me make a living, but I’ve been able to grow and prosper,” she says. “And now my husband, children and best friend all work with me. I am so proud of this business and the fact that it has given so much back to my community with the help that tourism and tourism dollars can bring to a small town like Covington.”
Jessica also gives back to the community by serving on the board of the Covington Visitors Bureau. She also donates time to several other local groups when needed including the formation of a local board of tourism partners for on-location tours that include other Georgia tour companies.
Jessica’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the community, which has awarded her numerous awards including Small Business of the Year for Covington.
So if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, check out Mystic Falls Tours online and plan a trip to Covington and see for yourself where so many iconic TV and movie productions have been filmed. Who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of your favorite vampire!
And for all of Georgia’s opportunities for film tours, events, filming locations and much more across the state, hit up our website TourGeorgiaFilm.com!
Got a Small Business question? Start the conversation! Contact Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development, at (229) 868-3428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.