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.