Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism Director Lisa Smith explained to local community leaders Thursday that tourism is economic development. Speaking to the Rome Rotary Club that numbers produced for the state for 2017 showed approximately $159 million in expenditures tied to tourism in Floyd County. “That’s $435 per day,” Smith said.
The numbers used by the state are developed using sales tax codes prepared by an outside firm. The 2017 numbers were up by a 5.9% increase. She said tourism expenditures in Floyd County have been going up annually since 2007.
Tourism is responsible for more than 1,400 jobs in Floyd County. Tourists generated more than $4 million in state tax revenue and $4.6 million in local taxes.
“As a household, this saves you $311 per year on your property tax,” Smith said.
The 2018 numbers will become available in May.
One of the biggest developments in the past year, according to Smith, has been the increase in convention business. “We have the hotel support next to our convention center now and we have Thomas (Kislat) working full time on bringing meetings and conventions to Rome. It’s a niche we have been missing.” Smith said.
Smith told the Rotarians that the film industry is a hot button industry across the state. “We have been out scouting (locations) almost weekly since the calendar turned over in 2019 and we’ll have some announcements, I hope, very soon,” Smith said.
The local tourism office provided hands-on service to more than 157,000 visitors last year.
The Roman Chariot golf cart transportation service has developed and become much bigger than Smith said she could have dreamed. The free ride service carried more than 13,300 people in the downtown area last year.
A mobile gift shop, the Rambling Rome, was added to the fleet last year and was on hand to greet baseball fans Thursday night for the Rome Braves home opener.
The Roman Holiday provided 74 charter tours on Rome’s rivers last year along with six public rides.
A new trolley, called the Roman Rose, is the latest addition to the tourism hardware. It is a 30-passenger trolley which will be available for rent for special events. Smith said her office would roll out the trolley on May 10 for free tours during National Tourism Week in May
Responding to a question about what three things she would definitely show off to visitors with young children, Smith said the Rome-Floyd County ECO River Education Center with its fish and animals would be at the top of the list, any of Rome’s trails, whether it be by bike or on foot, was second, followed by a visit up and down Broad Street. “You have to eat and get sugared up before they get back in the car,” Smith said. “If they’re into history, you definitely want to go visit the Rome Area History Museum.”