The U.S. Travel Association recently released its 2019 Travel Economic Impact Report on the State of Georgia and its counties and regions. According to the study made available through the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s tourism division Explore Georgia, the tourism industry in Thomas County generated $83.62 million in direct, domestic traveler expenditures in 2019.
“The tourism industry continues to grow and significantly impact our state and local economy,” said Bonnie Hayes, City of Thomasville Tourism Manager. “Thomas County saw an increase of $6.33 million in visitor expenditures over the $77.29 million from 2018, our largest ever single-year increase.”
“Georgia’s tourism industry generated a record-breaking $68.96 billion in economic impact and supported more than 484,000 jobs in 2019,” said Mark Jaronski, Deputy Commissioner for Tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Travel has been important to economic recovery after past recessions. As we continue our economic recovery due to the pandemic, the goal of our state’s tourism office will be to rebuild Georgia’s tourism industry beyond where it was in 2019.”
According to the study, travel and tourism created $3.46 million in state tax revenues along with $2.39 million in local tax revenues that have a direct impact on the local community. “Without the state and local tax revenues generated by tourism activity, each Thomas County household would need to be taxed an additional $332 per year,” said Hayes. “The benefits from sales tax dollars generated by visitors rather than residents stretches beyond our local households and results in improvements for our local community.”
Hayes says that the report also shows the positive impact that the industry has on employment rates for the local community. “In 2019, tourism supported more than 696 jobs and created $16.70 million in payroll for the county,” said Hayes. “These jobs staff our hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and even grocery and drug stores. More importantly, however, they support our local households. Our unemployment rate of 4.0%, as reported by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, would have been 8.2% without the tourism industry.”
City-sponsored events such as the First Friday Sip and Shops, Rose Show and Festival, and Victorian Christmas drive tourism to the area but Thomasville’s tourism draw stretches beyond annual events. “Visitors to Thomasville come to experience the shopping and dining that is available in Thomasville. Attractions such as Pebble Hill Plantation, the Lapham Patterson House, and our variety of events and festivals attract visitors year-round,” said Hayes. “Weddings, reunions, sporting events, and an abundance of quail hunting plantations are also a major draw to our community. We have a great natural beauty that attracts our visitors. Thomasville also has wonderful infrastructure such as free parking, a vibrant and walkable downtown, and even top-of-the-line ball fields that bring team sports into our city.”
“Most of our visitors come from the southeast region, within a 3-5-hour drive from Thomasville, but we do see a large number of visitors from other states and even other countries from around the world,” said Hayes. “We are blessed to live in an area that offers such a variety of attractions to visitors, but what keeps visitors coming back might simply be the unique and inviting southern hospitality of the Thomasville community.”
For more information on Thomasville’s Tourism Department, please contact the City of Thomasville’s Main Street office at 229-227-7020.