At last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore stood up to give a presentation on one of Dawson’s biggest boons: tourism.
Tourism as an industry is alive and well in Dawson County, as Moore’s presentation made clear. According to the most recent numbers presented, tourism resulted in $52.39 million spent here in the county, which equates to about $1.47 million in local tax revenue every year.
This tax revenue, generated largely by people coming into the county, spending their money, and then leaving, goes directly to helping the homeowners and citizens in Dawson County with their tax bill. Indeed, tourism is estimated to save the average Dawson County household approximately $462 in taxes annually.
Tourism is also credited with supporting more than 500 jobs and a payroll of over $12 million in hospitality and other tourism-related industries in the county.
“A lot of our tourism jobs are some of our higher paying jobs,” said Moore. “The hospitality industry tends to have jobs all across the spectrum.”
This represents a massive return on investment. According to Moore’s presentation, for every $1 invested in tourism marketing and promotion, there was about $4.60 returned in local taxes.
That money goes “straight to the Dawson County and City of Dawsonville budget,” according to Moore.
One of the newest marketing and promotion efforts in tourism is the creation of videos for major tourist attractions to be used in social media campaigns, which reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers.
The videos that have already been filmed include the Len Foote Hike Inn, Amicalola Falls State Park, Burt’s Pumpkin Farm, the Etowah Valley Sporting Clays, and, of course, the Moonshine Festival.
Future videos are planned for Atlanta Motorsports Park, Lake Lanier, the North Georgia Premium Outlets, Fausett Farms Sunflowers, and Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze.
The Chamber has partnered with the Craig Miller Production Company to make these high-quality videos, which the Chamber uses to promote tourism. The videos are also given free-of-charge to the participating destinations so they, too, can use them in their own marketing campaigns.
“Craig Miller Production Company is one of the companies that works with the State of Georgia’s Tourism Office, and we fell in love with videos that he did for one of the conferences we attended,” Moore told the Commissioners in attendance.
These videos are just one tool in the Chamber’s tourism arsenal.
The Chamber has also partnered with many local media and news companies to bring attention to the natural beauty abundant in Dawson County. Back in 2018, the Chamber facilitated a guided tour with Crash Clark of Channel 11 News, which ended up as an episode of “One Tank Treasures.” Clark toured many of the same places targeted by the new video campaigns.
They also hosted a group of international travel writers on a media familiarization tour. These tours bring writers of major magazines, newspapers, and other media companies around the world to some of the best tourist destinations on the planet.
On this tour, the writers were given a tour of the Moonshine Distillery and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame before doing lunch at the Dawsonville Pool Room. From there, they headed to Amicalola Falls, were they went on a guided tour, hopped on a zip line, and stayed overnight at the Amicalola Falls Lodge.
Efforts like these are what led to the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and Office of Tourism Development to win the Bill Hardman Sr. Tourism Partnership Champion Award at the Governor’s Tourism Conference last August.
"As the numbers show, the tourism industry plays a vital role in helping our local, regional, and state economy thrive,” said Moore. “At the Chamber, it is our privilege to promote Dawsonville and Dawson County as a top destination for visitors. We will continue to seek ways to promote our tourism partners and support this ever growing sector of our economy."