Tourism in­creases in 2011

Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­ity in­creas­ing

The Covington News - - Front Page - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

New­ton County has been par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in 2011 as more than 9,000 vis­i­tors have graced the cham­ber’s wel­come cen­ter through June.

That’s 2,239 more than last year to date, and those ex­tra vis­i­tors are in­fus­ing more money into the lo­cal econ­omy. So far in 2011, the city has al­ready re­ceived $334,104 in ho­tel/mo­tel taxes, while it col­lected $223,192 all of last year, ac­cord­ing to city Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Leigh Anne Knight.

Cov­ing­ton has an ad­di­tional 8 per­cent ho­tel/mo­tel tax that helps pay for tourism and down­town Cov­ing­ton ac­tiv­i­ties and en­hance­ment through

Main Street Cov­ing­ton.

The bump is di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to the con­tin­ued pop­u­lar­ity of the Vam­pire Diaries tele­vi­sion show and other projects filmed in Cov­ing­ton, Tourism Di­rec­tor Clara Deemer said.

When the EyeCon Vam­pire Diaries con­ven­tion came in March, it brought with it 2,544 vis­i­tors, about twice as many as a nor­mal month. An­other EyeCon Vam­pire Diaries con­ven­tion is planned in Atlanta from Oc­to­ber 28-30 as the show en­ters its third sea­son.

“ Un­less you’re staying in our ho­tels, you’re not pay­ing any­thing for tourism,” said Deemer.

Tourism is of­ten pro­moted as a clean in­dus­try, be­cause tourists pass through and shop with­out us­ing any county ser­vices.

In other cham­ber news, 10 eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects have looked at Cov- in­g­ton in the past two weeks, said Pres­i­dent Hunter Hall at July’s monthly meet­ing.

Hall said vice pres­i­dent of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment Roger Har­ri­son has been work­ing his state con­tacts ef­fec­tively, in­clud­ing re­cent vis­its in Atlanta, where he has gar­nered more prospec­tive projects.

How­ever, de­spite in­creased ac­tiv­ity, Hall said any pay­off will be de­layed, as busi­nesses are tak­ing longer, be­tween 1.5 to 2.5 years, to de­cide on new loca- tions. Be­fore the re­ces­sion hit, when busi­ness was boom­ing, com­pa­nies were mak­ing de­ci­sions in three to six months.

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