Grant funding will provide financial support for tourism marketing campaign.
The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) today announced it has been awarded a Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant from Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program supports marketing efforts to bolster the recovery of Georgia’s tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. Athens CVB was among 34 tourism entities across 27 counties who received a combined total of nearly $1.5 million in recovery marketing funding as part of this one-time grant program.
Governor Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly approved $1 million in the amended FY21 state budget for tourism recovery. Because of the substantial number of grant applications – from 58 organizations totaling nearly $2.5 million in funding requests – Explore Georgia contributed an additional $1 million from the state tourism marketing budget to fund as many grants as possible. The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing program also includes $500,000 in co-op matching funds, for a total of $2 million in recovery support.
The Athens CVB will utilize the marketing grant to expand its multimedia summer marketing campaign. "We are thrilled to receive this additional financial support from the state of Georgia," said Athens CVB director Katie Williams. "Athens attractions, restaurants, hotels and shops are open and ready for business and we look forward to a strong summer of welcoming visitors back to Athens. Our summer campaign will reintroduce visitors to the sights and sounds of Athens, including the return of live music and the inaugural Restaurant Week, coming July 10-17."
“Georgia is a beautiful state and as we continue to recover, I look forward to working alongside our industry partners to promote the state’s incredible tourism assets to travelers across the globe,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of GDEcD. “These grants are an important tool for our industry organizations, the majority of which are small businesses, to begin their recovery efforts. We are dedicated to rebuilding travel and tourism across our state because Georgia’s diverse economy cannot fully recover until our tourism and hospitality industry is thriving once again.”
The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program was designed to provide relief to areas of the state most impacted by the drop in tourism and will fund promotional efforts to aid the travel industry’s recovery in 2021. The grants awarded have prioritized organizations and communities that have experienced the greatest impact from the loss of visitors and subsequent tourism spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we head into a summer when we expect to see a tremendous reemergence of domestic tourism and the economic prosperity that travel brings, the funding of these grants recognizes the importance of communicating the diversity of visitor experiences across Georgia that are close to home for so many Americans,” said Mark Jaronski, deputy commissioner of tourism at GDEcD. “Thanks to a great working relationship with our destination marketing partners across the state, we believe that we can be most effective in what’s expected to be an incredibly competitive landscape by marketing Georgia to the American public together and complementing the state’s tourism recovery campaign Ready. Set. Georgia.”
The applications were evaluated based on need, quantified by the year-over-year loss in Hotel-Motel Excise Tax collections for the organization, and the change in unemployment in the organization’s county. Grant recipients received 100% of the award amount requested on their applications.
About Explore Georgia
Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development is the state’s official destination marketing organization. Through its home office in Atlanta, nine visitor information centers across Georgia, and a network of tourism representatives across the globe, Explore Georgia inspires travel to and within the state through marketing programs developed and executed in partnership with the state’s travel industry. The division works to advance Georgia’s tourism industry that represented $69 billion and supported more than 484,000 jobs in 2019. Learn more at ExploreGeorgia.org.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a destination for arts and location for film, music, and digital entertainment projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. Visit www.georgia.org for more information.