Tourism On My Mind

The Peach State is quickly moving up in the ranks as one of the hottest places in the country to visit. The Travel Industry of America reports that tourism expenditures in Georgia grew to $25 billion in 2003 alone.

The Peach State attracts visitors from across the country who want are in search for true southern hospitality, and for the folks who live here, those tourists mean dollar signs.

Don Sims, president of the Thomas County Chamber, says, "In Georgia it's over 209,000 jobs directly from tourism and billions of dollars, so it's a great impact on our economy."

In 2003, Georgia moved from the eighth-most visited state in the country to number seven, with visitation rate the highest between last July and September.

According to the Travel Industry of America, 48 million visitors came to Georgia last year, spending more than $14.5 billion during their travels. Now, new hotels like this one are popping up all over the state in anticipation of another good year.

"We already have some of the finest bed-and-breakfasts in the south, so people are excited about that and it's paying off. We're having a tremendous amount of repeat business down here."

"This is their home away from home and when they have to travel for family or business, they just enjoy coming back here over and over again," says Wanda Swearingen, assistant innkeeper at Paxton House Inn.

Dennis, Marjori and Christie Russo, visiting from Kentucky, say, "Nice to get away also from the hustle and bustle while you do have the big cities to go to, you have the small towns also."

Peach State residents say it's the "best of both worlds" atmosphere that makes them call Georgia home and thousands others visit each year.

California is ranked the most-visited state in the country, followed by Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina.