Friday, May 12, Visit Savannah reported to its Board of Directors that direct visitor spending in the Savannah area increased by 4.5% over 2015. Total visitor spending made a financial impact in the community of nearly $2.8 billion, the highest figure to date. The statistics were measured by Longwoods International in their Longwoods Travel USA study.
President of Visit Savannah Joseph Marinelli says that the record-breaking year in visitor impact is an especially triumphant story given the weather-related setbacks the area experienced in 2016. “Although all key performance indicators were up, we saw slower growth in the number of visitors but terrific increases in spending and hotel/motel tax collection. This was reflected in the areas of retail, food and beverage spending, tours and museum attendance. Plus, our marquee special events like the Savannah Music Festival, Savannah Voice Festival, Savannah Food & Wine Festival and the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon all report increased attendance and revenues.”
“The impressive overall growth in visitor spending in Savannah and on Tybee Island in 2016 is a wonderful success story,” agrees Board Chairman Brian Huskey. “Considering Tropical Storm Hermine hit the area on the Friday before what is typically a busy Labor Day weekend, and we all know the impact of Hurricane Matthew, having our best tourism year on record is something to truly be proud of! I think it’s clear we’re going in the right direction.”
Total visitation to the Savannah area rose by 1.4% in 2016, as Savannah and Chatham County saw the average length of stay for visitors staying three to four nights rose from 23 percent in 2015 to 27 percent last year. Also of note: shopping, dining and landmark/historic sites were again the top three activities and experiences that interested visitors.
Longwoods Travel USA is the nation’s longest ongoing study of business and leisure travel, and has been conducted quarterly by Longwoods International since 1990.