Brian Kemp to Spend Nearly $6 Billion in COVID-19 Relief Money on Georgia Tourism

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp will spend $5.8 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds — taxpayer money — on the state’s tourism industry.

This, according to an emailed press release late last week.

Kemp will give the COVID-19 relief money to Explore Georgia, which is the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).

This, despite Kemp saying in the press release that Georgia’s tourism industry made gains this past year.

Like other destinations around the world, Georgia experienced COVID-19 pandemic-related losses in travel spending, tourism jobs, and overall economic impact from the industry. However, overall visitation in 2020 nearly matched the record number of travelers in 2019,” the press release said.

“Domestic overnight and day trips to and within Georgia totaled 151.8 million visits, helping mitigate lost visitation from meetings, conventions, and international markets. For the year, Georgia gained significant market share nationally, rising from number 7 in 2019 to number 5 in 2020 among all 50 states for overnight visitation.”

Georgia officials announced last month that economic development projects throughout the state during fiscal year 2021 delivered record-setting jobs and investments.

Investments increased by 46 percent, while job creation increased 5 percent above prior state economic development records. New investments totaled $10.97 billion. Investors created 33,439 jobs in the state through 379 projects. The GDEcD’s Global Commerce division supported those projects between July 1, 2020, and June 30 of this year.

Officials with the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office announced in February that the people who work for Georgia’s film and television studios were working again. They were working more frequently than their counterparts at competing studios in California and the United Kingdom. They said that was because officials in Georgia’s state government had a more lenient COVID-19 policy. Georgia studios opened back up not long after the start of the pandemic.

Film and television studios in Georgia take advantage of a tax credit to film within the state. Studio executives can apply that state tax credit to 20 percent of a production’s qualified expenditures in Georgia. They may also earn a potential 10 percent Georgia Entertainment Promotion uplift by including an embedded Georgia logo on approved projects.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Brian Kemp” by Brian Kemp. Background Photo “Money” by SCR3AMFR3AK. Background Photo “Georgia Department of Economic Development” by Georgia Department of Economic Development.

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