Local tourism dollars talked about at city council meeting

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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On Tuesday, June 18, the Americus City Council held one of its two monthly meetings. At the meeting, Summer Murray, Chair of the Visit Americus Tourism Board, gave an update on how local tourism is affecting the city of Americus.

Before Murray spoke, Alice Mercer was recognized as the Honorary Council Member for the month of June.

In her opening remarks, Murray stated that the city was shy of a half a million dollars at the end of 2023 in hotel and motel tax. “That’s $190,757 difference for what this department brings since the split of Main Street from tourism,” Murray said. “Each year, that number climbs higher and higher. Visitation to our traditional sites, for example, the Rylander National Parks etc., in 2023 was 159,723,” Murray said. “Our media impressions for 2023 were 15,734,014,060 in digital impressions.” Murray went on to say that the media impressions for 2023 were 15,734,014,060 in digital impressions. She added that with 224 publications through the Visit Americus team’s efforts, the total estimated value was at almost $146 million dollars. “We gather this data through our Cision news monitoring platform,” Murray told the ACC. “Many of the bloggers with whom we work are now syndicated with MSN, resulting in a high number of media impressions measured by the number of unique monthly visitors to online outlets, more than 1 million impressions per article.” Murray went on to say that when applied to the media impression methodology, a high estimated value is measured. “MSN, along with yahoo, are news aggregator websites pulling fresh content from all over the world to provide high quality content to their users daily, Murray said. “Large media outlets like Thrillist Southern Living, the US News and World Report, among many others, contribute to these tools. Being picked up by these outlets is fantastic for our destination or traction so we always include them in our reporting,” Murray said. She went on to say that in 2024, the Visit Americus Tourism Board was already garnering close to 1,187,000,000 total media impressions with a value of almost $11 million. “This is amazing for our city, the size of Americus”, Murray said. She went on to say that this is earned media and that earned media is media that is publicly gained through promotional efforts other than paid advertising. “It takes time and talent and connections to make this happen,” Murray said. “Unlike paid media, which involves direct payment for space or air time, earned media results from organic coverage.”

Murray went on to say that as far as the hotel motel tax of 2024, they have reports up through May and they are at $189,510. “That’s just the marketing portion of Visit Americus as far as the regional visitor information center,” Murray said. She added that the Americus Visitors Center hosted multiple events last year, including First Friday. “It is an opportunity to introduce the community, as well as visitors, to the helpful folks running things on the first floor of City Hall,” Murray said. She also talked about the Maize Multicultural theme in 2023, in which the tourism board team represented France. In 2024, they represented Japan. “These include food, drinks and activities for kids,” Murray said. Murray added that during the Downtown goes Disney celebration a year ago, the tourism board team represented Aladdin. She added that the movie “Get Ready for Coco”, a Mexican heritage theme film, will be shown during Hispanic Heritage Month. Murray also gave a recap of past events and mentioned a few upcoming ones, including Flashback Friday, Halloween and Christmas.

This is a picture of the sinkhole on Russell Street in Americus.
Photo by Josh Windus

After the meeting, the Americus Times-Recorder spoke with George Allen, the newly appointed Director of Public Works for the city of Americus regarding the sinkhole at the intersection of Bessie Mays Circle and Bill Cross Street, as well as the one on Russell Street. “Currently, we do not have any contracts for the sinkholes,” Allen said. “We’re looking at repairing some of them in house and evaluating the rest of them to see what would be the best rout to take.” Allen went on to say that there is a contract for Russell Street that the city is looking at to evaluate to see if it’s feasible.

He added that Russell Street has a sewage issue and Bessie Mays Circle has a storm water issue. “The one on Bessie Mays, we’re looking to do in house really soon to repair the problem and the sewer situation on Russell, we’re looking to evaluate the feasibility of completing it,” Allen said.