Y'all come see Ge­or­gia

The Covington News - - The second opinion - - Colum­bus Ledger-enquirer

We've had our say. Here's a sam­pling of what other news­pa­pers are say­ing around Ge­or­gia

As most Ge­or­gians know all too well, the Great Re­ces­sion that sapped the nation’s econ­omy was es­pe­cially harsh here. The state’s fis­cal house sus­tained even more dam­age than in most other states, with deep and some­times dev­as­tat­ing cuts in state bud­gets and huge pri­vate sec­tor losses.

Now, af­ter three years of tough eco­nomic times, it ap­pears one of Ge­or­gia’s most de­pend­able eco­nomic as­sets is ... Ge­or­gia.

Ac­cord­ing to U.S. Travel As­so­ci­a­tion sta­tis­tics, re­ces­sion-bat­tered Ge­or­gia saw an im­pres­sive in­crease in tourism spend­ing in 2010: a whop­ping $21 bil­lion. Not only is that 8.3 per­cent more than was spent here in 2009, but it ac­tu­ally set a new record — beat­ing the pre­vi­ous one that had been set be­fore the re­ces­sion.

Ap­par­ently the eco­nomic dam­age hasn’t made Ge­or­gia any less ap­peal­ing a des­ti­na­tion.

It ap­pears to be a des­ti­na­tion es­pe­cially pop­u­lar with folks from far-flung places.

The jump in spend­ing by for­eign tourists in Ge­or­gia was even higher than the over­all in­crease — at 15 per­cent, al­most twice as high. That is borne out in sta­tis­ti­cal break­downs that show the big­gest gains in trans­porta­tion (i.e., longer trips): air­lines, buses and cruise ship spend­ing up a com­bined 11 per­cent, and au­to­mo­bile trans­porta­tion up 13 per­cent.

An­other part of the happy sur­prise (if in­deed we should con­sider Ge­or­gia’s ap­peal a sur­prise at all) is that the dra­matic in­crease in tourism in­come came pre­cisely when the state could least af­ford to pro­mote its at­trac­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Morris News Ser­vice, the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment’s tourism of­fice was hit with even big­ger bud­get cuts than most other state of­fices. Yet vis­i­tors came here any­way. ... But whether vis­i­tors are here for weeks af­ter ar­riv­ing in an air­liner or cruise ship, or for a short week­end to catch a Braves game or visit Call­away Gar­dens, it ul­ti­mately doesn't mat­ter how you mar­ket if you don’t have some­thing worth sell­ing. Ge­or­gia has plenty.

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