Domestic, international visitors' expenditures up in Georgia

Travelers are spending more in the state of Georgia, according to the communications specialist for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Stefanie Paupeck said Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced that domestic and international visitors spent $21 billion in the state in 2010. Statistics from the U.S. Travel Association reported an increase of 8.3 percent, from 2009, she said.

"Georgia's tourism industry plays a vital role in our economic prosperity and improving the quality of life for all Georgians," said Deal.

Paupeck added that more than 233,800 jobs were due to the tourism industry in 2010, which accounted for $6.8 billion in payroll.

The rise of visitor expenditures provided $1.56 billion in state and local tax revenue to Georgia, she said.

"Every Georgia household benefited from state and local tax savings of $459 as a result of the tourism industry's tax contribution," said Paupeck.

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, of The U.S. Department of Commerce, reported that international travelers increased 19 percent last year in the state, she said. Their expenditures also rose 15 percent to $2.1 billion, she added.

Inbound international travel in Georgia was the fourth highest volume change in the U.S., she explained.

"Georgia now ranks second in the Southeast behind only Florida, and 12th among other U.S. states for international inbound travel," said Paupeck.

The 2010 Visa Vue data reported that the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Germany are the top five countries from which people are coming, to visit the Peach State, she said.

Furthermore, said Paupeck, expenditures from domestic travelers increased 7.6 percent last year, contributing to $18.9 billion. Georgia's percentage increase in 2010 rose beyond the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

According to officials from the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Henry County Convention Visitors Bureau, 2010 tourism statistics for each county will be released in September.

Paupeck added that Deal will host the annual "Georgia Governor's Tourism Conference" in Macon, in September. More than 400 tourism industry professionals are expected to attend.

"The conference educates members of the tourism industry about travel and tourism-related issues on a national and statewide level," she explained.