Tourism in Columbus creates over 4,300 jobs annually

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Tourism doesn't just bring outsiders to our area, it provides jobs for thousands of people in Columbus.

According to Columbus Convention and Tourist Bureau, annual employment in people of Columbus is 4,327 people. Tourism affects restaurants, hotels, gas stations and restaurants hire more servers and retailers can hire more clerks because more people come into Columbus.

"When people come here, the dollars they spend have exponential impact on our community," Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said. "It benefits our local businesses and support local jobs. Many mom and pop organizations and small businesses receive support from tourism."

From Tuesday's work session, Peter Bowden with Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau explained each Columbus house hold saved $521 per year in taxes because visitors come to Columbus spend that money. Mayor Tomlinson said tourism is important in every city, but tourism plays a huge role for Columbus's economy.

"They spread that information and that's great for us," Tomlinson said. "It helps us when we are going to land a new economic development projects. We also want to make an impression on them that this is where they want to live and this is where they want to start their business."

Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau explained the annual visitor expenditure is 348 million dollars, and the overall estimated payroll is $119 million. For each dollar the Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes in tourism, the city receives over $22 in return of investment.

Tomlinson also spoke about her trip to Texas. She said she learned a few new things and she is ready to apply them to making Columbus into a better city.

"I went to Austin for Chamber of Commerce's annual trip earlier this week," Tomlinson said. "I learned that we have to learn to deal with poverty. It's an essential part of our economic development strategy. If our poverty rates are too high, we cannot grow as a city. We have to have large amount of our populous to be able to be employed for the strong workforce."

Tomlinson also said mixed income living is how the city is growing and planning now.

"Many cities are increasing the density in their urban areas and they are doing that through mixed income housing development," Tomlinson said. "They have proven to be most sustainable form of neighbor developments. They also respect and embrace existing neighborhoods so that you can strengthen existing neighborhoods."

Tomlinson is also looking to create an atmosphere for the millennial generation.

"We are in a new era of innovation and the millennial generation that is coming up is insisting that the cities they live in have a high quality of life," Tomlinson said. "This is the generation of entrepreneurs and inventors and we have to create an environment for that. The great thing about Austin was that about 20 years ago, the city was very much like Columbus. But they made some decisions to make their authenticity and they struggled with some issues that we struggled with in the past."

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