SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - With the weather warming up and kids nearing the end of the school year, tourism is picking up in Savannah. Last year's tourism numbers were released Monday and Georgia had a record-breaking year.
The office of the governor released that Georgia broke a record in tourism last year. Since Savannah is known for tourism, many say the city helped increase those numbers for the state.
"Atlanta is the largest tourism destination in the state and Savannah is a very, very strong second and really there isn't a lot under that second," said President and CEO of Tourism Leadership Council, Michael Owens. " We are a huge economic driver. Not only for our community here in Savannah, we are all pretty familiar with that, but it's a massive economic driver for the state."
This week is National Travel and Tourism Week in Georgia and the governor had some exciting news. Governor Nathan Deal announced the state's tourism industry generated $63.1 billion in economic impact for 2017. That is a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year. Businesses in Savannah say they noticed the rise in tourist last year.
"There has definitely been an uptick in tourism," said Georgia Walters, manager of Cool Savannah Tours and Gifts. "We do sell tours – trolley tours, walking tours – and last year was a boomer of a season."
That boomer of a season not only brings in money for the city, but it keeps many people employed.
"Tourism and hospitality is Savannah's largest employer. One in seven jobs or 27,800 jobs are attributed to hospitality. Those are direct jobs, not the inducement. And we know we are getting a spend, we expect in 2017 the numbers will show right at $3 billion in our market," said Owens.
In 2017, visitor spending in the state generated more than $3.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. According to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, Georgia's total tourism demand is 39 percent higher than its pre-recession level in 2008. People are hoping the numbers continue to rise for this year too.
"This year so far has been really, really good," said Walters. "Of course, it's going to have its sound moments because people work and school isn't out yet, but it's looking like it's going to be another busy season, a busy summer."
National tourism week continues until Saturday, May 12.