A Path to Sustainability
The development of the Arabia Mountain trails will bring more visitors to the area, and more opportunities for the monastery to increase its visibility and connection with the wider community. But this heightens the need for improved guest accommodations that will also enable the monastery to better capitalize on tourism.
In December 2006, a comprehensive plan for facilities and greenspace was completed by Pazdan-Smith Group. The Phase I components address the monastery's priority objectives, including:
- Development of a Public Gathering Space - The Monastic Heritage Center
- Construction of a new Retreat House; and
- Site work and necessary renovations.
The development of the master plan coincided with an in-depth sustainability study that examined ways for the monastery to achieve financial self-sufficiency for decades to come. Phase I projects have the greatest potential to increase revenues and position the monastery for long-term sustainability. At the same time, they include safeguards to protect the monastic need for solitude and preserve the tranquility of the site.
Over the next five years, the annual number of visitors to the monastery is projected to increase by 45 percent. If the monastery can increase opportunities for financial exchange -- by offering food and enhanced amenities that encourage longer visits -- it will have a significant impact on operating revenues. Likewise, with a more modern facility, the Retreat House will attract more retreatants -- especially weekday guests -- who will be more likely to return for future visits. In addition to boosting revenues at the monastery, the economic impact on local businesses is expected to be significant. By drawing more visitors to Conyers and Rockdale County area, the master plan improvements will benefit the local economy.