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Tourism by the numbers; Courtyard to open later this month

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GRCVB Director Lisa Smith

Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Lisa Smith told her board of directors that 89 percent of the visitors to the Rome area come on leisure trips, only 11 percent for business purposes. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

The GRCV board of directors got a Tourism 101 operational review from Executive Director Lisa Smith and her staff earlier this week.

Smith and Communications Director Kristi Kent reported that according to data put together by the Historic High Country tourism group, which encompasses counties across Northwest Georgia, the average day visitor spends at least $59 a day while in town, while the average overnight visitor spends $189.

The community has 16 nationally branded hotels and the hospitality industry in Rome supports more than 1,340 jobs.

"The challenge for us is to attract weekday business to the same volume that we're attracting weekend business," Smith said.

A profile of the average visitor shows that person to be 49 years of age with a household income in the neighborhood of $97,438. The average visitor traveled a distance of 247 miles.

In terms of in-state visitors, the vast majority, some 38 percent, come from the metro Atlanta area. Macon is number two followed by Chattanooga, which is considered part of the Georgia market.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg market is the leading out-of -state market, sending folks to the Greater Rome area followed by Montgomery and Birmingham, then Jacksonville, Florida.

Eighty-nine percent of the visitors classified their trip to the Rome area as being a leisure trip with just 11 percent calling it a business trip. Smith said the business number shows the room for growth in the convention business now that the Forum River Center has undergone a major interior renovation and the number of supportive rooms within walking distance of the convention center has increased.

"There is meeting business to be bid for and Rome has a very safe and vibrant downtown,” Smith said.

When examining the reasons for coming to the Rome area, family/life events is the leading reason, at 43 percent. Nature and outdoor visits account for 28 percent while cultural events is third with 21 percent.  Shopping was only listed by 7 percent of the visitors as their reason for coming to the area.