ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany leaders are looking for ways to attract more visitors to town.
Tourism already has a major impact on the city's economy, but Mayor Dorothy Hubbard got some people together Tuesday evening to look at ways to increase that impact.
The Mayor's Forum on Economic Development at the Albany Welcome Center focused on local and regional trends in tourism with a goal of attracting more people to places like the Flint Riverquarium.
16,000 people from out of town signed the registry book just downstairs at the Albany Welcome Center last year.
And those making the trip to Albany have unpacked a healthy economic impact.
"This is really good for Albany. With $221.5 Million being generated by tourists, that kind of helps alleviate some of the tax relief for our citizens," said Rashelle Beasley with the Visitors Bureau.
On Tuesday, travel and hospitality leaders took notes on how to get some of those visitors into their doors.
On average, travelers are spending 1.6 days in town.
Flint Riverquarium Operations Manager Vicki Churchman said that the discussion opened her eyes to new possibilities.
"Getting more conventions and more groups here and making sure that folks are aware of the fact that the Riverquarium can be used as a meeting space," explained Churchman.
One challenge Churchman and others mentioned was transportation. City workers said they're looking into how to make it easier to for folks to get around when they come and visit.
And those people are increasingly coming to the state from outside the region.
"What's interesting is that we've started to see, as the economy has begun to do well, as gas prices get lower, consumer confidence is up and we are starting to see some further away markets move into our top ten list," said Tourism Researcher Andria Godfrey.
And those places include New York and Texas, so, as time goes on, residents can expect to see far away visitors making their way to the Good Life City.
Researchers added that Brazil and markets in Asia are also beginning to grow, indicating an improving economy in many places.
Albany's most popular attraction is Chehaw Park. It attracted more than 100,000 visitors last year.
It has an operating budget of around $1.8 million.
The 800 acre park includes a zoo, campground, miles of hiking and biking trails and much more.