Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tourism is Economic Development

With all the recent buzz about Economic Development - nationally and locally - it's nice to focus on some specific, local examples that illustrate what those terms mean to for a state and community.

Yesterday, Jan 24, 2012 was Tourism and Hospitality Day at the Georgia Capitol and was a great opportunity to pause and appreciate the impact of Tourism on a state's economy. Here's what I learned from Georgia's Department of Economic Development and Georgia Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus...

  • Tourism is Georgia's 5th largest employer
  • Tourism generates a total economic impact of over $45 billion
  • Tourism supports more than 391,000 jobs.  For perspective, that's about 10.4% of all Georgia's payroll employment!
  • $5.6 billion in state, local and federal taxes were generated by that $45 billion of spend.
  • The Georgia Restaurant Association states that every 1 million spent in Georgia's 16,345 eating/drinking places generates and additional 29.2 jobs in the state.
 Tourism is unique in that it:
1) Is sustainable
2) Is "clean" industry
3) Clearly impacts local economies and
4) Impacts many different facets of an economy - transportation, lodging, meals, supplies, etc.

"Tourism" is a loose term that encompasses a wide range of topics from casual family trips to business conventions to international visitors to Filming and TV production.  Here's why Film/TV production can be such a positive influence on Tourism and overall Economic Development...

 When a film or TV is produced in a community (especially bit hits!), it can establish that community as a tourist destination for years to come.  That's especially important for smaller communities.  A film production can  inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into a community within a few days or weeks.

With filming and TV becoming a big industry for many states (Georgia is now #3 in filming, according to industry sources)  it's important to integrate Film/TV production into a community's Tourism/ Economic Development and Film/TV attraction programs and efforts.

Communities may want to consider taking a twofold approach to enhancing their Tourism/Filming attraction:

1) Identify and showcase community assets - not just the "big, pretty" things, but also the real world, gritty things that film/TV productions want - real world homes, warehouses, etc.

2) Remove obstacles to conducting business with the community.  That means making easy  access to community information, personnel and approval processes and streamlining the processes.  Film/TV companies operate in "GO FAST" mode so communities have to be ready - 24 x 7 to support filming requests when film/TV companies need them.  (Often on short notice!)

Many community representatives are happy to help get through bottlenecks but there needs to be a way to avoid making ALL requests "high level exceptions". A framework for establishing good service - from the film/TV producer perspective is critical.

Think about two restaurants, similar menu, similar prices, good food, nice locations but one has great service while the other has slow service, rude personnel and inconsistent diner experiences. Which would you choose?  The good service can be the big difference to winning the business because they removed the obstacles to doing business with them.

Removing bottlenecks and obstacles should be a community priority when trying to enhance Tourism and Filming.

Potential bottlenecks to filming in communities:
1) 24 x 7 access to personnel and policies
2) Inconsistent information about policies that affect filming (parking, law enforcement, fire departments, use of streets, use of community property, etc)
3) Short timelines and disjointed approval processes

As communities look to improve their Tourism and Economic Development, Filming of movies and TV can be a valuable contribution to the community strategy. Avoiding bottlenecks, delays and other obstacles to conducting business in the community should be a priority for communities. 

A "Welcoming" attitude combined with real programs can provide immediate results with long lasting benefits for a community. It's a great way to impact a multi billion dollar Tourism and Economic Development industry through improved local efforts!

Dale Sizemore is founder of FLIPSFilm, a web based service designed to enhance community filming experiences through a 24 x 7 "one stop shop".  This tool is a way to create a positive filming interactions between communities and the production industry.

1 comment:

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