ATHENS, GA (Jan. 26, 2017) -- Tourism professionals from Athens joined Georgia tourism industry leaders and elected officials for the annual Tourism, Hospitality & Arts Day at the Capitol on Jan. 24 to recognize the $59 billion impact of tourism on Georgia’s economy. Representatives from the tourism industry presented Gov. Nathan Deal with a check representing the $3 billion in state and local tax revenue generated by tourism-related expenditures.

Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Chuck Jones, Athens CVB Director of Marketing & Communications Hannah Smith, Georgia Museum of Art Public Relations Specialist Michael Lachowski, Oconee County Tourism Director Alex Perschka, and Oglethorpe County Tourism Director Linda Parrish were among the Athens-metro professionals at the event.

“With a total economic impact of $59 billion, the tourism industry is an integral part of Georgia’s dynamic business sector and continues to be a major economic driver,” said Deal. “Today, this industry sustains more than 439,000 jobs across the state, making up approximately 10.3 percent of our total workforce. The impact of tourism benefits both the state as a whole and local communities, and we are proud of all Georgia has to offer to visitors from around the world.”

Visitors to Athens-Clarke County spent $281.31 million in 2015, according to the 2015 Travel Economic Impact on Georgia State, Counties and Regions study prepared for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) by the United States Travel Association (USTA). Tourism in Athens-Clarke County generated 2,664 jobs with a $56.13 million payroll, as well as $11.27 million in state tax and $7.77 million in local tax collections. Total state and local taxes of $19.04 million were collected from visitor spending.

While in Atlanta, Jones and Perschka met with all our local legislative delegation, as well as Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, an Athens native. Jones stated, “Every one of our local legislators, as well as Secretary Kemp, took the time to meet with us and extolled the virtues of tourism. They all understand how critical tourism is to our local and state economy. We are most fortunate.”

Following last year’s “Year of Georgia Music” theme, this year the state is celebrating the “Year of Georgia Film,” as Georgia is now the third-busiest hub for film production in the country. Due to the close partnership between Athens and the Georgia tourism office, Athens wrapped up last year’s music theme with being named as part of the culture and music scene of Georgia that landed the state on National Geographic Traveler's list of “Best Trips for 2017.”

Deal also unveiled the cover of the official 2017 state travel guide, which celebrates the Year of Georgia Film and the local communities that have served as backdrops for movies and television programs for more than 40 years. This year, the Athens Jewish Film Festival, inaugural Black History Month Film Festival, and films shot in the Athens-Clarke County area will be highlighted in Georgia’s marketing plan.


About GDEcD

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) plans, manages and mobilizes state resources to attract new business investment to Georgia, drive the expansion of existing industry and small business, locate new markets for Georgia products, inspire tourists to visit Georgia and promote the state as a top destination for arts events and film, music and digital entertainment projects. For more information, visit

About the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau is a proactive sales and marketing organization whose primary goal is to increase the economic impact of the hospitality and visitor industry by attracting individual visitors, group tours and meetings and conventions to Athens. Tourism WORKS for Athens, contributing $281.31 million in spending, 2,664 jobs and $19.04 million in local and state tax revenue in 2015.