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      Tourism creates $5.5 million local tax revenue for Albany

      The Albany CVB is launching a new marketing campaign to help continue increasing tourism in Albany and Dougherty County

      In one day, officials say tourists together spend more than $500,000 on tourism related expenses in Dougherty County.

      "Dougherty County generates $184 million in direct spending from tourists which is a huge economic impact for our area," says Rashelle Beasley, Interim Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager.

      The economic impact of tourism in Georgia is what Gov. Nathan Deal and tourism officials from across the state discussed on Tuesday during the annual Tourism and Hospitality Day at the state Capitol. Tourism officials revealed that Georgia generated $1.185 billion in state tax revenue from tourism-related expenditures in 2010.

      "It's a large number, it's hard to wrap your mind around that but you've got to remember when people come into the community they're not just staying in the hotels they're out shopping in your community, they're out eating in your restaurants, they're out visiting your attractions," says Deborah Bowie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

      All that spending helped keep nearly 2,000 tourism related jobs in Dougherty County in 2010. To keep the progress going, state delegates told local tourism officials to have a regional tourism perspective with Albany being the hub.

      "People can come to Albany and stay in Albany, visit our attractions but they're also able to go to Still Pond Vineyards, White Oak Pastures and those different places around us but still stay here in Albany so we can get that money as well," says Beasley.

      Local tourism officials say Georgia is now right behind Florida as a leader in tourism."That means that people are traveling here as a destination state and they're traveling all over, not just to north Georgia, but they're traveling to Savannah, to Macon, to Augusta and of course to Albany," says Bowie. "There's an opportunity for us to seize people who are on the road looking for smaller communities where they can come with their family, come with their children and really enjoy themselves."

      As for taxes, the state says tourism in Dougherty County generated more than $5.5 million in local tax revenue.

      "The amount of money tourists bring in to Albany and Dougherty county, the more money we can get in the tax base, the less amount of money property owners have to put out in taxes," says Beasley.

      As for the future of tourism in Albany, the Convention and Visitors Bureau says to expect more utilization of the river with attractions like canoeing.

      "We don't want to be Atlanta; we want to be Albany," says Bowie. "But you want the world to see how great Albany is and tourism is the way that we do that; it's how we welcome the world to Albany."