Savannah is getting ready for a busy weekend as thousands of gaudy green tourists are expected to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Georgia's oldest city holds its sprawling St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday, and the weekend celebration has organizers predicting a very profitable event for local businesses.
Big changes are coming to Savannah’s River Street, the waterfront heart of the city's tourism empire. Over the next few years, the street is expected to get two-new hotels and a first-ever restaurant on the actual river-bank. But that's just the beginning.
Savannah officials are aiming to attract a different kind of tourist with a new children's museum. A non-profit history group plans to open a one-acre outdoor exhibit area geared toward kids in June. The first phase is called the Exploration Station. The museum is backed by public and private donors interested in more options for kids and their parents.
Fort Benning's expansion and a new marketing push have helped increase tourism in Columbus. A Columbus State University study showed the west Georgia city welcomed 1.4 million visitors in the fiscal year that ended last June.
New signs soon will be directing motorists traveling to Tybee Island to use a new route. They now tell people to take US 80 through Savannah. This spring, the state Department of Transporation will move the signs to usher motorists on Interstate 16.
The country music trio Lady Antebellum is featured on the cover of the new 2012 Georgia Travel Guide, which has an interview with the group's members discussing their favorite spots to visit in the state. Featuring the Grammy-winning band in the color, magazine-sized travel guide is one piece of the Georgia Department of Economic Development's strategy for boosting travel to the state.
A South Carolina company is planning to build a massive casino resort complex 20 miles from Historic Savannah. An independent consulting firm says, the project would create about 5,000 jobs just across the border.
Tourism and retail spending are boosting Savannah's economy, but those are the only positive signs in a third quarter economic report. Armstrong Atlantic State University's Center for Regional Analysis released its quarterly forecast this week. Center director Michael Toma says, out of seven economic trends the forecast tracks, only hotel stays and retail recepts posted gains.
Ringgold, Sylvester and Thomasville are among the cities receiving grants from the state Department of Economic Development to support tourism growth. The agency is awarding $200,000 in grants to 23 municipalities, museums and other attractions.