Columbus wins big in tourism dollars

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - 30,000 people poured more than $1 million into the Columbus economy this weekend, braving the heat to enjoy everything the city had to offer.

"It ranged from the Aflac Outdoor Games, to the opening of National Infantry Museum, other sports events, family reunions and even "Family Day in the Park. You name it, there was something for everyone, and it meant big dollars for the city," said Peter Bowden, the director of the Columbus Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

The Aflac Outdoor Games brought plenty of money and people to the Fountain City, but more benefits are expected when the program finally hits the national airwaves on ESPN.

"Generally, when you look at media like that, it represents $11,000 in advertising, and that's just per impression. Anytime that program runs, you do the math, it becomes immeasurable. It allows us to tell the Columbus story in a subtle but positive way and also show off our fine facilities," said Bowden.

Across town, South Columbus got a big boost from the opening of the Army's newest museum.

"We had 4,600 people come through the museum on Friday, and we thought we could relax, but starting Saturday morning, we had another 4,500," said General Jerry White, president of the National Infantry Foundation.

The economic effects won't only last through the weekend.

The museum is projected to bring in 500,000 people each year, and some say those numbers could easily double as word spreads.

That will translate to bring in $30 to 50 million in tourism revenue to the city.

In addition, 300-400 new jobs will be created at the museum in the next year, which is great news for local workers.

"It's going to make Columbus the destination city that we've never been before," said General White.