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Governor's group visits to focus on tourism

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

September 10, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Domestic and International travelers directly spent over $20.2 billion in Georgia last year. That's up 5.8% from last year.

The Governor's Tourism Conference in Albany over the next three days will look at what they need to do to grow tourism in the state and here in Albany itself.

The conference opened with the emerging trends in tourism and shorter trips and a high tech approach is what attracts travelers.

If you think tourist attractions in Albany or statewide have no impact on you, think again.

"Tourism saves state residents an average of $300 per year on their local and state taxes, so not only is our coming together important to the tourism industry, the tourism industry is important to every Georgian," said Georgia Convention & Visitor's Bureaus Exec. Director Julie Musselman.

Tough economic times have softened the industry, 16% of travelers are taking fewer vacations and those who go are taking shorter trips within four to six hours of home.

 "The most popular form of vacationing is a weekend trip and that essentially is four days," said Peter Yesawich Y-Partnership Chairman & CEO.

Over the next two days the Governor's Tourism Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn will look at how Albany and Georgia can capitalize on a cut back in air travel by promoting in state visitation.

"We have a very diversified state and with a 159 counties, mountains, beaches, midlands we've got it all in Georgia so you really could find the vacation destination you're looking for right inside the state," said Musselman.

Who will they need to attract, someone who's never been here before.

"People now tell us that when they're getting ready to plan their next vacation about two-thirds tell us they want to go somewhere they've never been before," Yesawich said.

With travelers are using technology to find those locations, they'll need to do enough in cyberspace to physically bring people to cities like Albany.

Governor Sonny Perdue will address the conference Friday to discuss the importance of tourism in Georgia.

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