DPH Environmental Health Leaders Prepare Georgia for Travel Season

June 23, 2015

Travel season in Georgia has arrived, bringing with it crowds of tourists and adventurers looking to enjoy the southern charm of an area proudly boasting the nickname “The Peach State.”

While tourist attraction tickets and lodging facilities continue selling out, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is hard at work ensuring vacationers enjoy a safe and healthy experience during their local exploration.

DPH’s Environmental Health Section’s Hotels, Motels and Campgrounds Program works behind the scenes of popular destinations in Georgia to ensure tourist accommodations provide essential services, facilities and sanitary conditions required to protect the public’s health and safety.

These important processes may not cross the mind of the average tourist ready for an exciting Georgia adventure, but the role of environmental health is not just important for public health practices – it supports a thriving business industry in Georgia.

“Tourism in Georgia is a 57 billion dollar enterprise and lodging represents a significant portion of that economic revenue for the state,” said Maurice Redmond, M.S., REHS, director, Public Swimming Pools and Tourist Accommodations Program, DPH Environmental Health Section. “Our inspection and permit services not only protect the public’s health, but also promote and support Georgia’s vital tourism economy.”

Through a series of inspections and permit processes, the Hotels, Motels and Campgrounds Program evaluates tourist accommodations and campgrounds to ensure they follow statewide rules such as a maintaining proper maintenance, pest control, linen exchange, food service and sanitation operations to reduce transmission of germs.

“The goal of our inspection process is to ensure public facilities are mitigating and resolving public health hazards, particularly among facilities that provide overnight lodging services,” said Redmond. “These efforts are applied to the operations of an entire lodging property – we examine storage facilities, continental breakfast areas, guestrooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms and pools."

Oftentimes, the environment health permitting process can be quite complex as many facilities offer an array of custom services that enhance the tourist experience such as a franchise restaurant, banquet halls, meeting rooms and a spa all at one property.

While tourists enjoy the variety of their away-from-home accommodations, properties are tasked with balancing the unique permit regulations that comes with each of those service areas. 

“Many popular service offerings you find at lodging accommodations require different permit processes such a restaurant that is regulated by food codes and a spa facility that requires completely different permits,” said Redmond. “As the travel industry works to keep up with consumer demand for more custom services, our permit processes have to keep up with these trends to reduce health risks associated with tourism. Our job is to ensure the well-being of Georgia’s tourists and visitors always remain a top priority, both for DPH and the facility operators.”

For those that opt for a more rustic experience, outdoor health and safety are equally important.

Redmond’s advice for those looking to explore the great outdoors in Georgia is to always be aware of the campground’s health measures, and sometimes even more crucial, examine safety regulations that protect campers from wildlife.

“We encourage outdoor explorers to always do their research and be aware,” he said. “Read the camp’s accommodations rules and requirements, stay abreast of weather conditions and understand the potential wildlife you may come into contact with on your journey. All of these small actions help you properly prepare for the outing so you can enjoy the adventure.”

If you have concerns about the condition of a facility you visit in Georgia, Redmond encourages the public to report the issues to the facility’s management staff, as well as the environmental health office at your local county health department.

For more information on how DPH is helping tourists stay safe while enjoying their Georgia vacation, visit the Hotels, Motels and Campgrounds Program online. 

About the Author

You might like...

March 5, 2018

Summer is quickly approaching and that means community pools and water parks will be in high demand. Environmental Health inspectors are already in pool inspection and certification mode, but the Chatham County Environmental Health team will be extra prepared this swim season.

November 2, 2017

At the 2017 annual Georgia Mosquito Control Association (GMCA) meeting, State Entomologist Rosmarie Kelly, Ph.D., M.P.H., was awarded the T. Oscar Fultz Fellowship award. The award is granted for exceptional life-time contributions to the association and to the control and study of mosquitoes. It is the association’s highest award. T. Oscar Fultz was a pioneer in mosquito control and long-time past director of the Chatham County Mosquito Control Agency.

September 1, 2016

The City of Clarkston recently adopted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, effective Sept. 4, 2016, to reduce second hand smoke exposure, improve health outcomes and promote a healthier DeKalb County. The smoke-free ordinance prohibits the use of smoking, hookahs and e-cigarettes in all public places and all public and private workplaces.