Visit Savannah has been awarded a Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant from Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program supports marketing efforts to bolster the recovery of Georgia’s tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit Savannah was awarded the maximum amount of $100,000 and is among 34 tourism entities across 27 counties who received a combined total of nearly $1.5 million in recovery marketing funding as part of this one-time grant program.
Governor Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly approved $1 million in the amended FY21 state budget for tourism recovery. Because of the substantial number of grant applications – from 58 organizations totaling nearly $2.5 million in funding requests – Explore Georgia contributed an additional $1 million from the state tourism marketing budget to fund as many grants as possible. The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing program also includes $500,000 in co-op matching funds, for a total of $2 million in recovery support.
The funds will be dedicated to a digital marketing campaign designed to drive late summer/early fall leisure travel to the Savannah/Chatham County area, with a focus on potential visitors from regional drive-markets and targeted key fly-market cities.
“We are extremely grateful to Governor Kemp, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Explore Georgia for this opportunity. The local tourism and hospitality industry was devasted by the pandemic in 2020 and these new dollars will go a long way to increasing visitation to our community during the summer months and most importantly, keeping people working through the typically slower tourism months of July, August and September,” said Joseph Marinelli, President of Visit Savannah.
The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program was designed to provide relief to areas of the state most impacted by the drop in tourism and will fund promotional efforts to aid the travel industry’s recovery in 2021. The grants awarded have prioritized organizations and communities that have experienced the greatest impact from the loss of visitors and subsequent tourism spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Georgia is a beautiful state and as we continue to recover, I look forward to working alongside our industry partners to promote the state’s incredible tourism assets to travelers across the globe,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of GDEcD. “These grants are an important tool for our industry organizations, the majority of which are small businesses, to begin their recovery efforts. We are dedicated to rebuilding travel and tourism across our state because Georgia’s diverse economy cannot fully recover until our tourism and hospitality industry is thriving once again.”
The applications were evaluated based on need, quantified by the year-over-year loss in Hotel-Motel Excise Tax collections for the organization, and the change in unemployment in the organization’s county. Grant recipients received 100% of the award amount requested on their applications.
“As we head into a summer when we expect to see a tremendous reemergence of domestic tourism and the economic prosperity that travel brings, the funding of these grants recognizes the importance of communicating the diversity of visitor experiences across Georgia that are close to home for so many Americans,” said Mark Jaronski, deputy commissioner of tourism at GDEcD. “Thanks to a great working relationship with our destination marketing partners across the state, we believe that we can be most effective in what’s expected to be an incredibly competitive landscape by marketing Georgia to the American public together and complementing the state’s tourism recovery campaign Ready. Set. Georgia.”