Kathy Mathis retirement party

Ann Hortman, left, reads a happy retirement card to Kathy Mathis during a meeting of the local tourism board on Wednesday. Mathis is stepping down this week after 37 years and 10 months, most recently, as deputy director in the tourism office.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism was a 34% reduction in direct tourism expenditures in Rome last year.

Ann Hortman, director of the Rome Sports Commission told member of the Tourism Board the 34% figure was a “decent decrease.”

Overall, the impact of events touched by the local tourism office totaled $8.813,929 in 2020.

The Wings Over North Georgia Air Show was the top revenue producer, with an estimated $2,719,127 impact on the local economy in late October. The one-day Rome River Jam was number two, producing an estimated $590,000 locally.

In July, the first big USTA Junior tennis tournament to be played following the early pandemic lockdown was number three on the revenue list at $323,759. That event was followed by the Donald Trump presidential rally in November which generated $306,000 for the local economy.

An October USTA Junior tournament rounded out the top five with an impact of $246,709.

“Thanks to the Floyd County Parks and Rec Department which was one of the first to open up,” Hortman said.

The department hosted about 14 baseball and softball tournaments which together generated more than $650,000 for local hotel, restaurants and retailers during the summer months.

Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism Executive Director Lisa Smith said that if the first couple of months of 2021 are any indication of the year to come, “we are going to be in for a good ride.”

Getting the Forum River Center back into the swing of things is one of her priorities for 2021, she said.

Curt Burch, a new representative from Cave Spring on the tourism board told the group that informal zip code surveys of Cave Spring during the past year witnessed a step up in visitors from the Columbus, LaGrange and Macon markets.

West Central Alabama, including the Gadsden and Jacksonville area remain strong components of the visitors to Cave Spring.

The tourism board and staff also bid a fond farewell to Kathy Mathis who is retiring about 37 years and 10 months with the office.

“Its been a wonderful time,” Mathis said. The hardest thing to leave all of y’all.”

Recommended for you