Extend Georgia’s Golden Age for tourism

As a relatively recent transplant to Georgia by way of Las Vegas, Nev., I am repeatedly asked by natives why I chose to relocate to Georgia and raise my family in the southern part of the state.

As a 37-year-old marketing professional with multiple college degrees in various fields, I had many choices to consider when planning a move. Thanks to the vibrancy of Georgia’s economy, myriad of attractions, and continuing investment in tourism-related programs and infrastructure, Georgia has extended its reach to the traditional tourist and beyond, fully embracing the long-term economic impact of its full spectrum of visitors and continuing its golden age in the economic engine that is tourism.

Backed by a dynamic and diverse multi-platform marketing campaign, Georgia has stayed ahead of its competition by designing and instituting landmark programs such as film production tax credits and CameraReady, which provides free scouting, permitting and other production needs. The state Department of Economic Development estimates television networks, Hollywood studios, production companies and independent producers invested more than $3.3 billion here in 2013.

Another innovative push to remain competitive came in 2013, when the Georgia Tourism Development Act was revamped to let businesses retain part of their sales tax collections if they built a new tourism attraction or significantly expanded an existing one.

Throughout the recent economic downturn, Georgia tourism remained strong and showed steady growth, remaining an economic gold mine in uncertain times. The trend is continuing, with hotel revenue up 15.6 percent year to date in the state.

Recently named the “No. 1 State to Do Business in the U.S.” by Site Selection Magazine, Georgia can extend its golden age by continuing to market itself as a destination for tourists, industries, business and trade, while continuing to develop new strategies, such as a statewide program targeted at retiree attraction.

Rebecca McWilliam is director of tourism for Visit Dublin.

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