Sporting events help drive Gainesville tourism
Regina Dyer

Gainesville is quickly discovering that fishing tournaments are a big driver of tourism revenue for the city.

As 2017 draws to a close, Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager Regina Dyer said Wednesday that anglers drawn by fishing tournaments are helping to put heads in beds in large numbers.

Over the past four months, Gainesville hosted six fishing tournaments that generated in excess of $1.3 million to the city’s coffers, Dyer told The Times.

“These fishermen are spending money in hotels, transportation, food and beverages and at fish and tackle shops,” Dyer said.

Just as lucrative, Dyer said, were the Special Olympics Georgia State Fall Games held here Oct. 13-15.

However, it’s not just sporting events that are filling up hotel rooms. Dyer said Gainesville gets its share of business travelers drawn by Northeast Georgia Medical Center and international companies located in the area. She said the hotel/motel tax alone is averaging close to $80,000 a month, and in November the accommodation tax came close to $100,000.

“We’re still in a good upward movement with our hotel accommodations,” Dyer said. “That tells us what the trend will be. Those figures, what matters to me, they’re increasing from the previous year.”

In 2016, tourism generated $9.1 million in local tax revenues, Mayor Danny Dunagan said during his state of the city address earlier this year.

The outlook for tourism in 2018 looks even more promising, according to Dyer. She said that from March 8-11 Gainesville CVB will host one of the Fishing League Worldwide Tour tournaments leading up to the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup.

Dyer said anglers will arrive about one week prior to the FLW Tour stop in March, and the event is estimated to generate an economic impact in Gainesville of more than $2 million.

“We’re one of the stops on the way to the big cup,” Dyer said.  “It’s a big honor to have that. Since we’ve been on the FLW Tour, it has put us on everybody’s radar. That has elevated us in that whole fishing arena. We are a really desirable location for these tournaments.”

Eclipsing every other event next year will be the World Dragon Boat Championships in September that will bring more than 1,500 athletes, Dyer said. She said the city likely will receive assistance from the state for what she bills as an international sporting event.

“I would say the biggest tourism driver for Gainesville is the sporting-related events,” Dyer said. “They bring athletes and their families, and once they are here we get them the information they need so they can explore all of what Gainesville and the surrounding area has to offer.”  

Regional events