Georgia travel industry explodes during pandemic

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Georgia travel industry flourished during pandemic, state and travel industry data shows

TYBEE ISLAND, Georgia – Georgia’s travel industry has made a strong comeback this year, despite the pandemic, state officials say, making it one of the few bullish economic stories of the 2020 pandemic years and 2021.

For most of the past year, beach houses and condos have been booked quickly and filled up at a higher rate in the mostly sleepy resort town of Tybee Island. This was great news for Keith Gay, who runs Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals, a company that operates 200 vacation rentals on the island.

“It was an unusual year. 2020 was above average, and 2021 is a banner year,” he said.

With outdoor and socially remote destinations from the coast to the mountains of northern Georgia, and even the Okefenokee Swamp – Georgia’s travel industry has thrived during the pandemic, according to state data and of the travel industry.

State officials say that of the 50 states, Georgia was the nation’s fifth in 2020 for overnight domestic travel, up from the 7th in 2019. In June 2021, Longwoods International said travel spending in Georgia were up 58% from June 2020. Additionally, the state said tourism was worth $ 53.72 billion in 2020.

“Reservations were strong,” said Gay, who adds that the vigor lasted until the Labor Day weekend. “In a lot of cases, they were neck and neck reserved. There was very little open inventory.”

He added that Tybee had benefited from the closure of the cruise industry and restrictions on overseas travel to places like Europe and Asia, reducing competition for the coastal city of Georgia.

However, according to Gay, as the travel boom has pushed up prices, Tybee’s hospitality industry is grappling with labor shortages.

When the pandemic ends, he expects Georgia’s travel boom to abate, as travelers resume going overseas and cruising instead of places close to home like Tybee Island.


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