Georgia set records for tourism
Published 8:39 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023
By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – Georgia’s tourism industry not only has recovered from COVID-19 but even surpassed pre-pandemic numbers.
A record 167.7 million domestic and international visitors traveled to the Peach State during the last calendar year, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday during the annual Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference on Jekyll Island. Those tourists spent $39.8 billion, $2 billion above the record set in 2019 just before the pandemic struck.
“Thanks to Georgia’s incredible natural wonders, our great small towns with welcoming families, our major cities and attractions, and much more, our tourism industry continues to reach new heights,” Kemp said. “This historic growth is evidence that our pro-business policies are working, allowing us to compete like never before in all four corners of the state.”
For the third year in a row, Georgia maintained its No.-5 market share ranking for domestic overnight visitation among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
State tourism officials credited the marketing campaign “Ready. Set. Georgia,” launched two years ago during the pandemic, with helping drive the increase in visitors. The state Department of Economic Development used a $5.8 million federal grant to help open new markets for travel to Georgia.
“Tourism is a key part of Georgia’s economic development success story, with benefits that spread across communities in all regions of our state,” said state Commissioner of Economic Development Pat Wilson.
The tourism record also contributed an all-time high $4.7 billion in state and local tax revenue last year, a 10.1% increase over 2021.
The three-day tourism conference drew more than 400 tourism industry professionals from across Georgia.
Gov. Kemp: Georgia Breaks Tourism Records in 2022
Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), today announced that calendar year 2022 was record-breaking for the state’s tourism industry, welcoming the largest number of visitors the state has ever seen. While attending the Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference on Jekyll Island, Governor Kemp shared that 167.7 million domestic and international visitors in 2022 brought in $39.8 billion in spending, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by $2 billion. Total economic impact for Georgia travel and tourism reached $73 billion in 2022 – a 13 percent year-over-year increase. Travel demand supported more than 442,600 jobs across the state, an increase of more than 20,000 jobs between 2021 and 2022.
“Thanks to Georgia’s incredible natural wonders, our great small towns with welcoming families, our major cities and attractions, and much more, our tourism industry continues to reach new heights,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This historic growth is evidence that our pro-business policies are working, allowing us to compete like never before in all four corners of the state. I applaud the hardworking men and women who work in this industry, Explore Georgia, and the Department of Economic Development who made these record-breaking numbers possible.”
For the third year in a row, Georgia maintained its No. 5 market share ranking for domestic overnight visitation among all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The tourism industry also generated a record $4.7 billion in state and local tax revenue, a 10.1 percent increase over the previous record year of 2021.
“Tourism is a key part of Georgia’s economic development success story, with benefits that spread across communities in all regions of our state,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “The latest numbers are a testament to Georgia’s dedicated tourism industry professionals who constantly provide the best visitor experience possible, bolstered by the great work Explore Georgia has done to market the state as a top travel destination.”
Explore Georgia’s tourism recovery marketing campaign, “Ready. Set. Georgia.,” has remained a key driver for visitation to and within the state since it launched in May 2021. The state destination marketing organization utilized a strategic approach to allocate funds from its federal EDA state tourism grant of $5.8 million, allocated to Explore Georgia by Governor Kemp in September 2021 for the campaign. The funds were divided over four consecutive years in a prolonged effort to strengthen the state’s travel brand and open new markets for travel to Georgia. Explore Georgia combined state-appropriated funds with the EDA grant to maximize the campaign’s paid media impact. An independent SMARI Ad Effectiveness study showed the campaign influenced more than $113 million in state tax revenue, with a return on investment of $35 per dollar invested, the largest on record over the seven-plus year history of the study and nearly twice the prior high-water mark set in 2021.
“Georgia’s tourism economy is the strongest it’s ever been!” said GDEcD Chief Marketing Officer Mark Jaronski. “The pandemic shut down travel around the globe, but not here. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Kemp, our General Assembly, Commissioner Wilson, and the men and women of our statewide tourism industry, including our state tourism office and expert marketing and communications team, travel to and within Georgia and its ensuing benefits to our state’s economy and Georgians are higher than ever, establishing an unprecedented legacy for years to come.”
Presented by Explore Georgia, the tourism division of GDEcD, the three-day Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference is the premier annual event for the state’s travel and hospitality industry. This year, more than 400 tourism industry professionals from across the state attended the conference, which serves to inspire excellence and elevate the state’s tourism marketing efforts by providing access to world-class marketing strategies and insights from global experts and industry thought leaders.