Georgia Says

The Savannah Morning News on Savannah tourism:

Tourists can't seem to get enough of Savannah. That's one of the main impressions from the latest tourism study, which shows a 5 percent jump in the total number of annual visitors here in 2013.

And it's hardly a one-time blip. The numbers for the tourism industry, much like the statistics down on the docks at Savannah's busy port, keep going up, up, up.

There's no question that this robust tourism trend helps the local economy in major ways. But is it sustainable? According to the Longwood's International TravelUSA, which did the latest study, 13 million visitors came to Savannah last year (up from 12.4 million in 2013). They spent $2.29 billion, up nearly 11 percent from $2.07 billion spent in 2013.

For those who wonder what's behind Savannah's hotel construction boom, or how all these new hotels can stay open, there's the answer. It's a version of the movie "Field of Dreams." Build them. And they will come.

The plus sides are obvious — money and jobs. The Tourism Leadership Council estimates that the industry employs more than 22,000 people directly. That's one in seven employed people, the TLC reports.

When you consider that Savannah still has a chronically high percentage of poor people (a 28 percent poverty rate, at last count), the availability of jobs is critical. A paycheck is an escape route out of poverty. For many in this industry, that first paycheck was a stepping stone to a career.

A tourism boom has positive ripple effects in other areas, too. The greater the desire to visit Savannah, the more that low-cost airlines will consider providing service here. Property values tend to go up when areas become more desirable. Blight and under-utilized properties tend to fix themselves.

On the flip side, there's only so much space in Savannah. And that creates political and business pressures, which in turn creates conflicts ... At some juncture, Savannah's political, business and community leaders must have a serious conversation about such issues. It's important to tend to the lifeblood of the economy. But so is tending to what's at the heart.



More Opinion

The House is open

It took several months, much longer than anyone anticipated or wanted. Countless volunteers, contractors, construction crews and numerous Bo ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: RANT: A Coweta County sheriff’s office detention officer was fired and ar ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Macon Telegraph on creating possible passenger rail line service between Macon and Atlanta: God bless him, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: REALLY?!? For political junkies, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, the senato ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Macon Telegraph on state's Governor's Education Reform Commission: A new school year has begun. Smiling kids are skipping off to school ... Read More

Coweta’s political clout rising

Coweta County’s political star is on the rise. The county has a strong industrial base and flourishing commercial areas. The county sc ... Read More