Memorial Day isn’t here yet, but Georgians are already hitting the water, renting boats and enjoying lake front weekends.
Lake tourism has seen a boost in recent months.
Millions of tourists are expected to visit Lake Allatoona as well as Lake Acworth and Lake Lanier this summer, but business is already seeing a splash. Marina gas sales and boat rentals are up across the state.
At the Holiday Harbor Marina and Resort in Acworth, owner Eric Williams says boat service has jumped by more than 200% since 2011. Gas sales are also up by 40% from last year:
“ We’re selling a lot more gas, and that number is not based on a dollar amount, it’s based on gallons, because I wanted to make sure it’s not because gas is just more expensive...it’s because we’re selling more gallons of gas. People are out enjoying the water again.”
Williams attributes some of the early season success to the warmer weather but says that consistently higher sales show that the economy is to thank for the spike in business.
Will Massey, with Custom Marine in Statesboro caters to fishing enthusiasts. He says at a recent boat show, walk-in customers purchased boats outright— a sign that people have more money to spend on luxury:
“This particular year we sold four boats to people we met at the show. Usually we already know people at the show, we greet them at the show and then actually sell them the boat. These were new people that have never met us before, and that’s refreshing, so that’s a sign.”
According to the Army Corp of Engineers, there is a noticeable increase in visitors to the state’s lakes this season. Lake Allatoona is among the Corps’ busiest lakes, with 6-7 million visitors each year.