ATHENS, GA (Jan. 26, 2018) – Tourism professionals from Athens joined Georgia tourism industry leaders and elected officials for the annual Tourism, Hospitality & Arts Day at the Capitol on January 23 to recognize the $60.8 billion impact of tourism on Georgia's economy. Industry representatives presented Gov. Nathan Deal with a check representing the $3.1 billion in state and local tax revenue generated by tourism-related expenditures.

Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Chuck Jones and Athens CVB Director of Marketing & Communications Hannah Smith were joined by Michael Lachowski from the Georgia Museum of Art, Elizabeth Hovell from the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel and Oconee County Tourism Director Alex Perschka to represent the Athens area at the event.

"With a record economic impact of $60.8 billion, Georgia's tourism industry is a powerful economic development tool for local communities and our state as a whole," said Governor Deal. "This impact goes well beyond direct spending by visitors, as the industry provides job opportunities for more than 450,200 Georgians, accounting for approximately 10.6 percent of the state’s non-farm workforce. As this industry continues to grow, this success reflects our state's status as a world-class tourism destination and once again affirms that Georgia is on the minds of travelers around the globe."

Visitors to Athens-Clarke County spent $292.3 million in 2016, according to the “2016 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 supported 2,745 jobs with a $61.01 million payroll, as well as $12.22 million in state tax and $7.95 million in local tax collections.  Total state and local taxes of $20.17 million were collected from visitor spending.

While in Atlanta, Jones met with the full local legislative delegation, including newly elected Representatives Deborah Gonzalez and Jonathan Wallace, as well as Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, an Athens native.  Jones stated, “We are very fortunate to have legislators who understand the value of tourism, not only on a state level but on a local level as well. I am grateful to have been able to meet with each of them again this year.”

Deal also unveiled the cover of the official 2018 state travel guide, which features Georgia-native Jason Aldean, the reigning Academy of Country Music "Entertainer of the Year.” The cover photo was taken in Macon, Aldean's hometown, at The Big House Museum where original members of The Allman Brothers Band lived and wrote some of their first songs. The travel guide provides visitors with detailed trip ideas, attractions, accommodations and events in Athens and throughout the state. More than 700,000 copies will be distributed to encourage potential visitors to plan trips to enjoy authentic Georgia experiences.

Tourism Day at the CapitolL-R Oconee County Tourism Director  Alex Perschka and Chuck Jones talk tourism with newly elected Representative Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsvile)

Photo at top of page:  L-R, Chuck Jones, Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Oconee County Tourism Director Alex Perschka and Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), who serves as majority leader




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 $292.30 million in spending, 2,740 jobs and $20.17 million in local and state tax revenue in 2016.