Tybee Island sees increase in tourism during the pandemic

Tybee Island sees increase in tourism during the pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island city staff say throughout the pandemic they saw record breaking numbers of people who visited the island.

City Manager Shawn Gillen says they knew they had a lot of tourists during the pandemic based on traffic flow and high hotel occupancy, but they were surprised at what their revenue came out to be.

Gillen says Visit Savannah came to their city council meeting this past week and shared with them that their hotel/motel tax was different than in a lot of other places. In that, Gillen says, there were more people staying on Tybee than in places like Savannah.

Gillen says their hotel/motel tax revenue came in above last year. In some cases, it was between 10% percent and 12 percent higher than during the same period last year.

“They didn’t see that in places like Savannah where they were reliant on a lot of the large events that drove the hotel stays. Where here it’s the individual person just coming on vacation. It was a different phenomenon and a different impact of the pandemic. It certainly surprised us and pleasantly surprised us from a revenue standpoint,” Gillen said.

What Gillen says is interesting is that Tybee never saw a big spike in cases like they had expected with the high volume of people they hosted. WTOC did reach out to Visit Tybee to get the exact number of tourists who visited and are waiting to hear back.

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