COLUMBUS, Ga. – Tourism in Columbus is at an all-time high.
Last year, the industry brought in about $340 million, according to the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tara Dillon of the Iron Bank Coffee Company said business booms on the weekends and holidays.
“We were beating our projections before even noon,” Dillon said. “It’s definitely going to be a good day for us business wise.”
There was a packed house at the coffee shop on Labor Day…and the tip jar was overflowing.
“That’s looking pretty good,” Dillon said, laughing. “The more people who come in, the more people tip, the more we get, so that definitely helps.”
Just down the road, the numbers are up for Whitewater Express.
“Last year, for example, we did about 400 people on Labor Day weekend,” said Brent Tucker of Whitewater Express. “This year, we’ve got like 1600 people coming through.”
Tucker said the boost comes from good marketing and word of mouth.
Out-of-towners make up about half their business on the holidays.
“Holiday weekends are extremely busy for us and that’s good because that’s really good news,” Tucker said. “That means the locals are enjoying what the river has brought to the community and they want to show it off to their family who maybe lived here 10 to 15 years ago and didn’t see the river the same.”
Whitewater Express projects they’ll sell about 300 to 400 rafting tickets this Labor Day weekend. At about $34 a pop, the livin’ is easy on the Chattahoochee.
“Our kayaking instruction and rental numbers are up like three times the amount it was last year, so it’s really awesome to have so many people getting interested in the river and it really proves that the river is bringing a lot of growth to uptown Columbus,” Tucker added.
Tourism is the state’s second largest industry. It brings in about $16.5 million a year.
According to the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, tourism brought in $1.8 million visitors in the 2015 fiscal year. The industry supported nearly 4,500 jobs.