Valdosta - It's a one stop shop for Georgia's tourism industry. "This is sort of a business to business show that enlightens tourism people on new trends, and the state's attitude toward tourism," said Marty Brown, Valdosta Conference Center and Tourism Director.
More than 400 tourism leaders from across the state are in Valdosta this week for the Georgia Governor's Conference on Tourism. They're sharing marketing strategies, and finding inventive ways to draw more people to their communities. "They can find out what others are doing, what they've found works and doesn't work so other cities don't make the same mistakes or can capitalize on some of the successes their partners in tourism have experienced," said Brown.
Tourism is the second largest industry in the state, just behind agriculture. Last year visitors brought a whopping 26.2 billion dollars to Georgia. "We employee 212,000 folks and generate over 1.2 billion dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments," said Dan Rowe, Deputy Commissioner for Georgia Tourism.
Not only does the conference highlight the state's tourism opportunities, hosting it here in Valdosta puts the spotlight on what our community has to offer. "It's a gateway from Florida and its the last chance for folks to really experience Georgia's southern hospitality before heading further south," said Rowe.
And bringing this many people here for a three day conference isn't bad for our local economy. "At the state's $106.00 a day benchmark for spending, we're looking at about $130,000 dollars in direct spending to the community," said Brown.
It's a chance to show off what this town, and our state has to offer, and help make Georgia's second largest industry the first.