Savannah exudes a beauty and charm that few, if any, destinations can match. Savannah’s tourism and hospitality industry continues to be one of the largest economic drivers of Savannah. Travel to Savannah remains strong and the city enjoys visitors from all over the world. Most recently, the city was named “A World’s Best City for United States & Canada” by Travel & Leisure.
The Savannah tourism sector continued to grow in 2014 with total overnight person-stays increasing from 7.3 million in 2013 to 7.6 million. In 2014, over 13.4 million visitors came to Savannah including 7.6 million overnight visitors and 5.8 million day-trippers. The demand for rooms increased 5% in 2014, with visitor spending increased by 9.2% to approximately $2.5 billion. In 2014, room tax revenue climbed to $20.7 million, setting another record high.
Savannah is full of activity year-round. Although the busiest months in terms of visitation are April, May, and June, tourism activity is spread fairly evenly across the year. For overnight visitors, the mix is 91% leisure travel and 9% business and business-leisure. Over-night visitors stay approximately 2.3 nights in Savannah.
Savannah excels in special interest tourism activities and continues to be an exciting destination. Savannah’s distinctive qualities allow the city to stand out in the crowd. In top interest categories for overnight visitors, Savannah remains far ahead of typical national levels.
The leisure and hospitality sector continued to grow steadily with the total number of day and over-night visitors increasing to 13.4 million in 2014. Direct spending increased 9.2% to $2.5 billion and further supported the growing diversification in boutique retailing. Overnight person-stays increased 4.1% to 7.6 million and hotel room tax revenue set another record by reaching $20.7 million.
Special interest tourism activities such as visiting historic places, seeing cultural attractions, and enjoying exceptional culinary experiences are in high demand among Savannah’s leisure tourists compared to national averages. Savannah is unique positioned to satisfy this demand and is poised to continue as a major visitor destination in 2016.
Through late 2015, the regional tourism industry continues to contribute to regional economic strength. Boardings at the airport were 6% ahead of the previous year’s pace. Hotel room tax receipts are up 10% as compared to 2014 and are projected to exceed $21.5 million in 2016. Auto rental sales tax receipts were up 7% from the 2014 level. Hotel occupancy rates increased to about 76% in mid-2015 data, up from 71% in 2014 and 68% in 2013. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes accommodations, food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation, has been one of the fastest growing (about 5% annually) sectors since January 2010. It currently is the largest economic sector of the regional employment base, providing work for nearly 25,000 people.