During 2016, Bibb County had more than 10 million visitors, and more than one-third of those stayed overnight.
More than half of those people were visiting friends or relatives, but all visitors contribute to the local economy.
Also, nearly 150 conventions were booked in Macon during the past year, a 25 percent increase over the previous year, which led to 26,807 nights in hotels and 2,783 confirmed tour attendees, an increase of 51 percent.
These kinds of numbers were a reason to celebrate during Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting Thursday. More than 100 people attended the event held at Emerson Ballroom.
The impact of tourism in Bibb County is seen in jobs and tax revenue. In 2015, tourism generated more than 3,400 jobs, $347.68 million in direct spending, $14.79 million in state tax revenue and $9.71 million in local tax revenue, according to a slide show presentation.
Some key accomplishments of the CVB were increases in visitors to its website, Facebook followers (8 percent increase), Twitter followers (10 percent increase) and Instagram followers (63 percent increase).
Singer Maggie Renfroe, who was on “The Voice” TV show last year, performed and the CVB worked with Macon Beer Co. to create a special brew called Macon Soul as part of the celebration of its 35th anniversary.
The meeting also featured a presentation from Joe Veneto, owner of Opportunities Unlimited, a management consulting and training company created to drive tourism visitation and unforgettable visitor experiences.
He has helped destination marketing organizations throughout North America create product development strategies that generated results.
Two tourism supporters recognized for their efforts
In addition to presenting its end-of-the year results, the event was an opportunity to recognize people with tourism awards.
The 2017 Otis Hughes Tourism Spirit Award was presented to Jim Crisp, founder and artistic director of Theatre Macon. Crisp is celebrating his 34th year in Macon and he helped found Theatre Macon’s 31 years ago. He has also served the community through various volunteer efforts, including working with Macon’s Civic Club and the Robert McDuffie Center for the Strings, and serving on the CVB board.
This award is given to a person who has contributed significantly to the Macon tourism industry and has given time, talent and skill to support Macon’s tourism growth.
The B.J. Cain Top of the Line Award was given to O’Claudia Johnson, an administrative assistant and information specialist at the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce. She has been at the chamber since 2004 and greets guests and answers “the thousands of phone calls” that come to the chamber, said board member Patty Gibbs.
This award is presented to a person who works directly with a visitor at an attraction, restaurant and/or lodging property and goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide an exemplary experience for the visitor.
Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz