Investment in tourism a win for Georgia

Published 8:39 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Super Bowl LII is officially in the history books and hundreds of Georgians are already at work preparing for next year’s game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Among them are hoteliers, transportation providers, event management firms and other members of the state’s $60.8 billion tourism industry.

Tourism is the fifth largest employer in our state, supporting over 450,000 jobs every year.  And it continues to grow — not only in metropolitan areas like Atlanta, but in communities throughout our state where hospitality, attractions and unique experiences draw visitors from around the globe.  The Georgia Travel Association was created in 2016 to support the individuals and companies that comprise this booming economic sector and to ensure that all Georgians understand the contributions they make both to our economy and our quality of life. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, every one million in sales of travel goods and services directly generates nine jobs — the equivalent of over 10 percent of the non-farm payroll in our state.  While our organization appreciates the support and investments made by leaders like Gov. Nathan Deal, we believe that more can be done to support tourism in communities large and small, rural and urban.

First and foremost is an increase in funding for tourism marketing.  Georgia currently lags far behind our Southeastern neighbors and other states that have chosen to invest heavily in advertising and promotion.  Increased expenditures would have an especially important impact on smaller communities that simply do not have the resources available to promote agritourism, historical sites or their outdoor economies. Second is to ensure that all potential visitors know that not only is there something for everyone in our state, but that everyone is welcome.  It is critical that our leaders resist passing any legislation or creating any policies that are discriminatory or could be interpreted or perceived to be discriminatory.  Not only would these measures have a detrimental impact on leisure travel, but they could prevent our state from reaping the economic benefits that come from large conventions and major events such as the Super Bowl or the Final Four

When we invest in and support tourism, everybody wins.