Governor Brian P. Kemp, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) and its Tourism division, Explore Georgia, as well as more than 700 tourism industry professionals from across the state gathered virtually for the Georgia Tourism Summit. The program featured several national industry experts including Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. The first-ever virtual conference for Georgia’s tourism industry was broadcast live from host location Lanier Islands.
During the event, the Governor acknowledged and applauded the industry’s dedicated workforce who have felt the tremendous effects of COVID-19, and the overall impact tourism has on the state’s economy.
“I’m proud to recognize the hardworking Georgians in our outstanding tourism industry,” said Governor Kemp. “Tourism is a vital component of our state’s economy, and the industry has made countless sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite enormous challenges, they’ve utilized creative ways to safely market and explore our great state, and their dedication ensures that tourism continues to prosper.”
The Georgia Tourism Summit was developed as an educational platform for the state’s tourism industry to learn about national and statewide trends and emerging data, COVID-19 travel and tourism-related issues, and the state’s current tourism efforts and future initiatives.
“I am grateful to our tourism industry professionals for their commitment to supporting our communities and protecting the travel industry in our state during this global health crisis. Their efforts play a valuable role in making strides toward recovery and continuing to build upon the framework that has made Georgia a top destination,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson.
During the Summit, Explore Georgia Deputy Commissioner Mark Jaronski highlighted the economic impact of Georgia’s tourism industry. In 2019, Georgia welcomed a record 152.3 million domestic and international visitors, who collectively spent $39.14 billion in communities throughout the state and directly supported 484,056 jobs. The tourism industry also generated $3.45 billion in state and local tax revenue. Travel to, and within Georgia, had a total economic impact of $68.82 billion, up 4.9% from the prior year.
“Thanks to the strong support of Governor Kemp and Commissioner Wilson, our Explore Georgia team is hard at work, planning, managing and mobilizing state resources to inspire visitation to, and within Georgia,” said Mark Jaronski, deputy commissioner of Explore Georgia. “Our economy is significantly impacted by tourism, which supports businesses, creates jobs and generates tax revenue. We will work with our destination marketers and industry partners statewide in the months to come to support the recovery and future growth of tourism in Georgia.”
Throughout the summer, visitation to the state’s tourism website ExploreGeorgia.org saw record-high visitation, as well as increases on its social media channels. These record-breaking web traffic and engagement numbers indicate there is still a significant interest in travel to and within the state, positioning Georgia for a steady recovery.
The presentations and sessions from the Georgia Tourism Summit will be available starting on Sept. 3, 2020, to watch and download by clicking here.