Fast planes and bouncing tennis balls create big bucks for the local economy, according to a report of tourism spending released Thursday by the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.
September’s Wings Over North Georgia Air Show had an estimated impact of $2.8 million, according to the GRCVB report. Six combined tennis tournaments held at various venues throughout the city brought in $1.6 million.
The only other event close to touching that was the NAIA National Championship football game at Barron Stadium, which brought in an estimated $1.1 million in December.
Overall, tourism spending has increased by more than 41 percent since 2002, according to the report.
The bureau reports that a study from the U.S. Travel Association shows that tourists spent $117,220,000 in Floyd County during 2011, the most recent year that results are available. In comparison, tourism expenditures were only $82,900,000 in 2002.
The report also shows that the tourism industry in Floyd County is in a post-recession phase — with 2011 being the first year that spending has topped 2008 levels. In 2008, tourism expenditures were $113,920,000.
“Our latest research shows that the tourism industry has not only recovered from the recession, but we are moving forward with strength never before seen,” said Lisa Smith, GRCVB executive director.
The office also reported that sport, group, and event business that the GRCVB directly assists with are up from $7.6 million to $9.4 million in one year.
Events with the most economic impact in 2012 included the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show, NAIA Football National Championship, Southern States Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, and multiple tennis tournaments.
In addition to economic impact, the bureau also announced significant increases in their marketing and public relations efforts.
Website visits have steadily risen since 2009, however a significant jump in visitation took place following the September launch of the organization’s new website, RomeGeorgia.org.