Gainesville continues to bring in big bucks from tourism.
According to a fourth quarter report, Gainesville reaped more than $2 million between October and December from tourism-driven consumer activity.
The fourth quarter saw 18 events attended by a total of 44,420 people and 1,065 nights out-of-towners booked hotels within the city.
At Thursday’s work session, Gainesville Tourism Director Robyn Lynch named Christmas on Green Street for the highest number of attendees, with more than 12,000 people participating in holiday-themed pageantry and parades downtown.
Sporting events, specifically fishing tournaments, also were a significant contributor to upward trends in tourism, which has seen a continued rise since 2017.
A fourth quarter comparison showed a consistent uptick in revenue from hotel/motel tax over the last seven years, generating more than $500,000 for that quarter in each of the last two years.
“As you can see…(revenue) did very similar to last year, but that was a huge jump from years in the past,” Lynch said. “Year-to-date – you can see that we’re right on track to meet or exceed the numbers from last year.”
As Gainesville continues to become a thriving tourist destination, Lynch noted, there's an ongoing need for additional lodging for visitors as well.
“Like I probably say every year, we have to turn people away and are sending people to Oakwood, Buford to stay in hotels because we don’t have the capacity for them at this time,” she said. “...it’s good to see that once people come here, they see what Gainesville has to offer and they will continue to come back.”
There will be some relief soon. Courtyard by Marriott, a $50 million project planned for downtown Gainesville, is under construction and scheduled for completion later this year.
Lynch reported to council that Lake Lanier Olympic Park had 232,000 visitors in 2022, stating, “That is not just (visitors) coming for events, it’s people coming out to use the park, the boat ramp, the beach and then of course all of the special events we have there,” Lynch said.
She went on to describe an increase in community-sponsored events as a positive sign for the city as a whole, reporting more private sector involvement than in previous years.
“I think one of the things we’re most proud of is how many business and community sponsored events are happening,” she said. “For a long time…downtown looked at us to put on all of the events, but now they’re starting to see they can do some things on their own and we’ll support them. We do the promotion for them, help get people there, but it’s really their event and their expenses.”