As Georgia and our local destinations emerge from the pandemic and welcome back visitors, it’s time to turn the page and look ahead—to imagine a future for Georgia’s travel industry that is bold and imaginative, competitive and helps small businesses thrive. This National Travel and Tourism Week (May 1-7), the Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (GACVB) and our industry partners recognize the Future of Travel and the critical role our industry will play in rebuilding our local economy, fostering sustainability, ushering in new innovations and reconnecting Americans to each other and the world.
It is also an opportunity to remind lawmakers of the incredible value travel holds for America’s future growth and success as we move beyond the pandemic.
Travel is such an important part of who we are as a community. Before the pandemic, Georgia’s travel and tourism industry had a $69.0 Billion total economic impact supporting 484,000 jobs.* Nationally, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. in 2019—proof that travel will have an outsized role to play in Georgia and America’s economic recovery.
This vital revenue source was severely diminished amid the pandemic. To help return our industry to sustained growth, it is crucial that lawmakers prioritize policies to facilitate a more prosperous future for the millions of workers whose livelihoods depend on this industry.
The future of travel is sustainable Georgia attracts 152.2 million* many of whom visit natural and historic sites. Protecting these treasures locally—and restoring other sites such as national parks, national forests, beaches and natural attractions—ensures they can be enjoyed for generations to come. Travel and sustainability can complement one another. With the right tools in place, travelers can see and experience our country—and protect it.
The future of travel is innovative Infrastructure investments in roads, airports, transit and passenger rail are key to making it easier to access destinations and attractions. New transportation technologies like high-speed rail, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and other innovative technologies can improve travel times and attract more visitors to Georgia destinations. The future of travel is seamless While we’ve all grown accustomed to the ease of virtual meetings, travel and in-person meetings and events should be just as simple. Biometrics, improved baggage checks and ticketing services and other technological advancements make the travel process more secure and efficient. As American workers look to hit the road again, lawmakers should continue to champion these innovations as integral to restarting business travel. The future of travel is globally competitive Promoting America as a premier destination for global travelers is more important than ever as we recover from steep losses. Lawmakers should continue to advocate for funding for destination marketing organizations like our state tourism office, Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development as well as Georgia’s local convention and visitors bureaus so we can welcome back visitors from near and far. The pandemic was a setback, but it’s also an opportunity to reimagine the travel industry. If lawmakers plan for the future by prioritizing these policies today, businesses in Georgia can recover more quickly and rebuild the travel industry to be more dynamic, innovative, sustainable and competitive than ever before.
* Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).