Whether a college is in a big city or small town, they typically offer their own individual benefits. The same can be said for Carroll County in Carrollton, Ga., where over 12,000 students attend the University of West Georgia (UWG). While many of these students and local residents have become accustomed to the chain of restaurant franchises, local businesses and attractions in Carroll County, the rising tourism shows that it has way more to offer.
The U.S Travel Association is a national organization that provides state and county-level tourism spending. The annual economic impact of tourism on Georgia counties shows that Carroll County tourists have managed to spend over $144 million last year alone, which is 8 percent more than in 2013.
The growth reflected in the report is not due to any one attraction or event. Executive director of Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Jonathan Dorsey attributes the rising growth to the continuous effort of the bureau’s team.
“This sustained and sustainable growth reflects the high level of cooperative effort among individuals, organizations, businesses, attractions, lodging, dining, government—our whole community,” Dorsey said. “The Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud of the leadership role we play, but our county’s tourism success is definitely a team effort.”
Visitors come for a variety of reasons, including business, recreation tournaments, special events, museums, zip lining at Banning Mills and even taking a swim off the largest Georgia State Park sand beach at John Tanner State Park. While the individual attractions may not accumulate much of the funds, the impact comes from the necessities that go along with it.
“Of course [tourists] spend money on the event or attraction that brought them here, but it is the spending on things like lodging, fuel and of course, dining that really creates the economic impact across the community,” he said.
Tourism was responsible for the creation of 1,260 jobs in Carroll County in 2014, a 4.5 percent increase from 2013. These job opportunities spread across businesses such as restaurants, hotels, parks and music/arts venues, where the majority of the revenues come from visitor spending.
“Because the dollars a visitor spends into our economy circulate and roll over in the community several times before being spent out of the economy, tourism is a supporter and sustainer of a wide range of jobs across the county,” he said.
As more students enroll at UWG, the continuous increase in population could indicate a greater impact on Carroll County’s tourism.
“It might be that UWG’s increased enrollment has contributed to greater tourism what with orientation, family visitation weekends, homecoming and other UWG events,” Dorsey said.
While Carroll County continues to attract more tourists, Dorsey and the bureau continue to work together to develop new ways through marketing and to let people know what a great destination the greater Carrollton area is.
“It’s a great story we’re going to keep evolving and improving our ability to tell it.”