Tourism increases in 2011
Economic development activity increasing
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.