According to a news release from the Governor's Office, "The increase in visitor spending contributed $1.56 billion in state and local tax revenue to Georgia. Every Georgia household benefited from state and local tax savings of $459 as a result of the tourism industry's tax contribution. ... The number of international travelers to Georgia increased 19 percent in 2010, with expenditures up by 15 percent to $2.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.
"Georgia's increase in inbound international travel was the fourth-highest volume change in the United States. Nevada and Washington tied for first with a 32 percent increase, while California was third with an increase of 21 percent. Georgia now ranks second in the Southeast behind only Florida, and 12th among other U.S. states for international inbound travel. According to 2010 Visa Vue data, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Germany are the top five countries of origin among those visiting Georgia. Domestic travel expenditures also increased 7.6 percent, reaching $18.9 billion during the same time period and ahead of the national growth rate of 7.4 percent."
For Ellen Archer, executive director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the news is encouraging and is echoing what she is seeing locally.
"The good thing is [our hotel tax receipts] may [resemble those] in 2007, but it's 9.2 percent better than it was last year," she said. "Definitely, absolutely and 100 percent, [I believe our tourism is rebounding]. ... We had been rocking along seeing 8 percent increases annually for four or five [years]. A couple of years it was 8. FY08, it slowed down at 2.4. Then FY09 we had a 12.4 percent decrease in business. So when we got to FY10 [from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010] and only had a negative 1.8 percent that was good news. And then this year, coming in at [a] 9.2 increase, it's very encouraging."
Attributing the recent decrease in tourism to the economic downturn, Archer said all facets of the industry have been affected, ranging from corporate and leisure visitors to motor coach group travelers. Optimistic that the local lodging numbers will continue to increase, she believes there are a wealth of attractions to draw people to Bartow County. Referring to the CVB research, among the top 10 tourism venues in Bartow are Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park, Tellus Science Museum, Booth Western Art Museum and Barnsley Gardens Resort.