Lodging Industry Points to Strong Area Economy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/01/04

Lodging Industry Points to Strong Area Economy

The Mansion on Forsyth. The Mansion on Forsyth.

The economic picture for the Savannah area is strong. Today the chamber of commerce announced the good news at its annual economic outlook luncheon held at the Westin Hotel on Hutchinson Island. Hundreds of people attend the event that helps set the tone for the coming new year.

Business leaders say the driving forces for the local economy are homebuilding, the ports and of course tourism.

So what exactly are the signs of a strong economy? One good indicator is the hotel and lodging industry. There's no better sign that the hospitality industry is alive and well in Savannah than the 126-room hotel called the Mansion on Forsyth Park.

"Our gearing here is not toward largest, it's geared toward grandiose, architecture, history and service," said general manager Craig Johnson.

It's scheduled to open March 25, 2005. Johnson says even with all the other hotels--especially in the downtown area--there is still the demand for more. "Without question, the economy of Savannah is strong and we believe it is increasing exponentially over the next five years plus."

The new Garden Hotel on Bay Street will open its doors in spring 2005, too. It will have 136 rooms and give tourists yet another option for a place to stay.

It's not just the hospitality industry that will benefit. These new hotels will serve as a catalyst for the economy as a whole.

"With tourism being over a $1.5 billion business in direct expenditures, it's a very major part in the overall economy in Savannah," said Mark Spadoni with the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. "So clearly, outside visitors does a lot to drive business. Then if you add a multiplier there, the economic impact of tourism to the area jumps to three to five billion dollars."

Every tourist, and every night they stay in Savannah, truly does make a difference.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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