Tuesday was Tourism, Hospitality and Arts Day at the Georgia Capitol. It was a first for Governor Kemp and a “Chamber” day for the new governor and industry professionals to show off the state. Tourism continues to grow as an industry in Georgia and has an annual impact of more than $63 billion.
“Georgia’s tourism industry continues to break visitation and impact records, helping to boost our economy and sustain more than 460,000 jobs for hardworking Georgians,” said Governor Kemp. “I look forward to working with industry leaders in the months and years ahead to spur job creation, encourage investment, and make Georgia #1 for small business.”
That $63 billion was an increase of nearly 4% from 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics. Industry leaders took the opportunity at the capitol to present Kemp with a check representing the more than $3 billion in state and local tax revenue generated by the industry.
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDECD), more than 107 million Americans visited Georgia last year. An additional 1.7 million come from out of country via Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The state has been active in its support for the tourism industry for years, including passage of the Georgia Tourism Development Act in 2013. The measure provided an incentive to developers of approved new or expanding tourism projects with over $1 million in costs.
The GDECD is very active on the ground in promoting tourism and establishing attractions. The Georgia Tourism unit of the GDECD divides the state into nine travel regions, representing areas of the state with similar geographic, historical and cultural offerings. A Tourism Project Manager is also assigned to each region and most of the regions also contain an official Visitor Information Center.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our industry partners in hospitality and tourism,” said GDECD Pat Wilson. “These entrepreneurs and innovators are committed to creating new tourism product and enhancing existing experiences across the state. Thanks to them, it’s no surprise when visitors come back to Georgia again and again.”
In addition to his recognition of the industry, Kemp also unveiled this year’s cover of the Explore Georgia Travel Guide, which features tubing on the Chattahoochee River in Helen. The guide is now available for free or can be view online. The guide features attractions from across the state, including the architectural history of Madison, “the First Lady of Georgia” that is Milledgeville, the outdoor possibilities in Eatonton and the relaxation available in Greensboro.
“The Explore Georgia Travel Guide is a key marketing tool designed to inspire visitors and assist them with planning a memorable Georgia vacation,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism at the GDECD. “Each year, the state travel guide showcases iconic experiences that can only be found in Georgia, attracting visitors to explore our state.”