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Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 4:52am

Tourists Spent $21B In 2010

State officials say tourists spent $21 billion in Georgia last year. The money came from increases in the numbers of both domestic and international visitors.

There was a nearly 20 percent jump in visitors from abroad - led by tourists from the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea. But the governor’s office says domestic tourism also grew, with spending ahead of the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

It’s all happened in a still tough economy. And it’s that which might be benefiting tourist draws like northeast Georgia’s wine country.

Ginevra Boyes with Blackstock Vineyards in Dahlonega says people want to go somewhere, but,

“...they’re traveling closer to home. So we’re getting a lot of people up from Atlanta where in years past have flown out to Napa or something, but now they’re staying closer to home.”

And it’s not just some of the obvious tourist destinations like Atlanta of Georgia’s coast drawing visitors. Greg Torre with the state’s Department of Economic Development says the push of Georgia’s smaller historic towns to promote themselves is paying-off.

“We’ve heard from attractions, we’ve heard from restaurants, we’ve heard from boutique stores and yes, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about visitors to those locations.”

The governor’s office says the spike in tourist spending was 8 percent last year. That poured $1.56 billion into state and local tax coffers.

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