Tourism impact on Savannah's economy and residents - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tourism impact on Savannah's economy and residents

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

More than 500 tourism professionals from across Georgia are on Tybee Island for the Governor’s Tourism Conference.

The conference takes place every year, but this is the first time it is being held in Savannah.

"These are the folks that do this for a living. So if they can go back to Atlanta, and Augusta, and Columbus, and Valdosta, and talk about how great of an experience they had in Savannah and Tybee, we all win. And that's what it's all about, driving more visitors to our city, to our community, and higher spending,” said Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah.

Often, traditional tourism-based businesses are the expected winners of tourism in the city, however tourist spending has a much greater reach.

"How many attorneys have jobs because of what's going on in the tourism industry, how many printers, and how many graphic designers? All of the induced labor that a 2.5-billion dollar industry creates. That’s jobs across the market inside the tourism community and well outside of the tourism community," said Michael Owens, president/CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council.

$2.5 billion, that's how much the tourism industry raked in last year in Savannah. Of that, $14.4 million was from hotel/motel taxes alone.

That tax money pays for city services like park and tree maintenance. And according to tourism officials, more tourism means a better quality of life for locals.

"Would Savannah have half of the restaurants it has without 13 million visitors coming here every year to support those businesses? Think of our retail options, think of all the induced employment, think of the induced shops whether it be retail, whether it be restaurants, whether it be attractions,” said Owens.

Savannah is also becoming a place for destination weddings, a lucrative piece of the tourism industry. The reason; it may be two people getting married, but they bring dozens more with them. 

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