Hurricane evacuees spur tourism - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Hurricane evacuees spur tourism

July 8, 2005

Albany--The Albany and South Georgia area saw a big spike in tourism last year, largely due to Florida hurricane evacuees.

Now, with another major hurricane taking aim at the Florida Gulf Coast, Chamber of Commerce leaders and businesses are hoping once again to cater to evacuees' needs for shelter and recreation.

"We are going to welcome these folks with open arms, and try to give them plenty of hospitality, and try to make them feel welcome at a time that is stressful for them. Hopefully we just see a little bit of rain, and some wind from this and it won't prevent them from getting out and seeing the best that there is in Albany and Dougherty County," said Chamber Vice President Sara Overdown. 

Area hotels are booking rooms quickly, as many Floridians prepare for possible evacuations as Dennis approaches the Panhandle.

The Sleep Inn in Albany is pretty quiet, but all rooms have already been filled for Sunday and Monday ahead of the storm. The hotel staff says they are happy to provide evacuees needed shelter and hospitality.

"We don't have anybody right now, but come tomorrow and Sunday we will see people arriving early. So we will be ready for them! Everbody is welcome," said hotel manager Jay Lomax.

If Dennis' track changes, those with reservations in advance will be allowed to cancel them.

Tourism had a $26 billion impact in the state of Georgia for 2004, that was up a billion dollars over the previous year.

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