Major Tourism Developments will Draw Visitors and Economic Impact to Macon
Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism division announced today that Macon-Bibb County is experiencing a tourism development renaissance with six new tourism projects investing more than $50 million in the community.

“Travel and tourism is an instant economic generator in Georgia with an overall economic impact of $57.1 billion across the state,” said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Carr. “The development of new tourism product is important as it creates jobs for Georgians, enhances the state’s robust quality of life and gives our visitors reasons to return to the state.”

Tourism is a powerful jobs and economic development generator in Macon. In 2014, visitors to Macon-Bibb County generated an economic impact of $328.37 million, sustained more than 3,300 jobs, and contributed $21.9 million in state and local tax. Bibb County ranked 10th of 159 Georgia counties in 2014 tourism expenditure levels.

Located in the heart of the state, Macon-Bibb County is teaming with new tourism product that will create fresh experiences for visitors and locals. As the number of domestic and international visitors to this area of the state continues to grow, the industry is adding jobs and capital investment to meet the growing demand.

The new tourism developments include:

Exchange Block Project: a new hotel development in downtown Macon that will be the largest in decades ($50 million) and will encompass an entire block. The mixed-use development will include at least one hotel with about 120 rooms, apartments with 120 to 140 units, retail shops, a restaurant and a multi-level parking garage with about 575 spaces;
Historic Capricorn Studios: the historic structure will be preserved and returned to its original use as a multi-purpose music incubator;
Hotel-Restaurant Development: new hotel and restaurant development on Mercer University’s Macon Campus will include a Marriott TownePlace Suites with 95 rooms, as well as a new restaurant and shopping complex (the hotel is set to open in fall 2016);
Sandy Beach Water Park: a 10-acre water park fit with a wave pool, double slide tower, lazy river, kids splash pad, multipurpose family pool, and more. The new water park will bring 100 new jobs to the area. (partial opening occurred in 2015, with its completed format in May 2016);
Tubman Museum: the newly opened museum is in a new 49,000 square foot home, making it the largest museum in the Southeast devoted to African American art, history, and culture;
Improved Amerson River Park: a $5.4 million renovation added new amenities to the popular park including a canoe/kayak take-out, 3 ½ miles of paved trails, two new pavilions, new entrance gate and added parking (opened in July 2015).
“Macon-Bibb County, with its unique blend of art, history, culture, and a fantastic culinary scene, is a huge tourism draw for visitors who come to Georgia,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Our Georgia Tourism team is actively promoting Macon’s new tourism product with domestic and international visitors as well group tour operators, travel media, on social media and at our Visitor Information Centers.”

“Macon is a great tourism destination, and we are excited about the new tourism product. The completed projects and upcoming developments will increase visitation, and continue to grow the tourism economic impact for Macon-Bibb County. Projects like these complement our existing assets and allow us to share not only what’s new, but also what already makes Macon such a wonderful place to live and visit,” said Monica Smith, President & CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

GDEcD’s Historic Heartland Tourism Project Manager Rebekah Snider assisted Macon-Bibb County on behalf of the state by providing information and access to state resources by facilitating meetings, providing tourism industry research, marketing ideas, grant and incentive information.