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Rise in Tourism Spending Boosts Georgia Economy in 2004

Wednesday, May 11, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Annual Travel Industry Study Shows Positive Economic Impact

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that tourism expenditures in Georgia grew to $26 billion in 2004, according to the annual economic impact report of the Travel Industry of America (TIA).  Preliminary figures reflect a billion-dollar increase from 2003.  The study also indicates increases in resident wages and jobs created.

            “These figures illustrate why tourism is a key component of economic development in Georgia ,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “We anticipate public-private partnerships such as the New Georgia Tourism Foundation will be a catalyst for even greater growth in the future.”

The $26 billion in travel expenditures represents combined direct, indirect and induced spending.  TIA figures indicate that Georgia visitors in 2004 spent $15.4 billion in the state—a six percent increase from the previous year.  These direct expenditures encompass lodging, food, transportation, recreation, entertainment and incidentals.

Travelers to Georgia also generated $4 billion last year in indirect economic impact through purchases of goods and services by travel industry business operators from local suppliers.  Additionally, Georgia 's tourism industry realized an induced impact of $6.7 billion in 2004 from expenditures made by employees and suppliers of tourism-related businesses.  Total combined indirect and induced impact was $10.7 billion—a half-billion more than in 2003.

“Tourism has the power to influence multiple facets of our state's economy,” said Craig Lesser, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.  “In addition to generating revenue and jobs for Georgians, it creates a positive experience for our visitors, whom we hope will come back to see us often.”

Georgia showed across-the-board increases last year in the number of people employed and the amount they earned, according to TIA.  The state bucked a national trend of dropping employment in the sector, showing an increase from 2003 of slightly over one percent, for a total of 211,800 jobs.  The largest segment of those jobs, 83,500, was in the food service industry.  Tourism-related jobs produced a 2.7 percent increase in pay last year, for a total of just over $6 billion.

Governor Perdue has made tourism a priority in his economic development strategy for Georgia and recently signed into law a bill (SB125) creating the New Georgia Tourism Foundation, a public-private entity and non-profit organization charged with maximizing and consolidating Georgia's tourism marketing efforts in order to attract more visitors and increase the industry's economic impact throughout the state.  The foundation, chaired by GDEcD Commissioner Lesser, is in the process of formulating its bylaws and membership.

The Governor will also host the Governor's Conference on Tourism in Valdosta September 14-16, during which over 400 tourism professionals from around the state will gather to discuss ways to position Georgia as a global travel destination.