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Tourism is up in Northeast Georgia mountains
Regions lodging revenues outpace other parts of state
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Kevin Langston

The Northeast Georgia mountains, as a state tourism region, outperformed the rest of the state last year.

Lodging revenues, which are tracked monthly, were up 7.8 percent, leading the state, said Kevin Langston, Georgia’s deputy commissioner for tourism, at a Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau luncheon Wednesday afternoon.

Georgia, overall, was up 5 percent, he said.

“It’s a great sign. Folks are really discovering this area and we’re making some real progress,” said Langston, speaking at the Lanier Charter Career Academy.

Northeast Georgia has 8,540 tourism-related jobs with tourists dropping some $834.4 million in the region in 2010, generating $23.34 million in local tax revenues.

By comparison, Hall County has 2,250 tourism jobs, with tourists spending $208 million, which translated into $6.1 million in local tax revenues.

“It’s a big business here, and we want folks to recognize that,” Langston said. “That’s the message I want to bring — that tourism is an industry that works for Georgia, and we want to make sure we continue to invest in that.”

Langston stopped in Hall County as a part of a swing through the state to promote a new tourism marketing campaign, “The South with a Twist.”

Georgia is touting itself as a destination that mixes Southern hospitality with modern conveniences.

“The campaign grew out of some research we did a couple of years ago,” Langston said.
“We went out and did focus groups, consumer interviews, some online surveys ... and found that when people were planning a vacation to Georgia, they were generally looking for your stereotypical Southern experience — antebellum homes and outdoor adventure. “But what they really fell in love with when they got here were the modern twists — the fact that it’s easy to get in and out of here because of the airport, (public) Wi-Fi and fantastic wineries.”

Georgia has nine tourism regions, with the mountains area consisting of 17 counties, including Hall.

Gana Ahn, media manager for GolinHarris, which represents the Department of Economic Development, said Langston began the state swing in February, with the Northeast Georgia region being his fourth stop.

Langston heads today to Presidential Pathways, which makes up 19 counties in West Georgia, Ahn said.

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