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2023 explore georgia official state travel guide unveiled.

  • February 14, 2023

georgia tourism department

Governor Brian Kemp and Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Monday unveiled the 2023 Explore Georgia Official State Travel Guide .

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This free, annual publication is dedicated to inspiring travel to and within the state. The 2023 edition features four different covers, marking the first time in more than a decade that the guide has been published with multiple covers.

georgia tourism department

Credit Explore Georgia

“In every corner of Georgia, residents and visitors alike can find memorable experiences that will keep them coming back,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This year’s travel guide does an excellent job highlighting the sights and people that make the Peach State such a welcoming place. Thank you to our Explore Georgia team, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the hardworking tourism professionals throughout our state who created this valued resource, which I’m confident will inspire new and repeat visitors alike to find exciting new experiences their families will cherish for years to come.”

Showcasing Georgia’s small towns, cities, mountains, and beaches, the four  2023 Explore Georgia Official State Travel Guide  covers represent the key destination types data has shown travelers are most interested in visiting. Featured cover destinations highlight diverse geographies and experiences, including Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, and Savannah’s Waterfront. Leaders from each of the cover destinations, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, Jekyll Island Authority, and Visit Savannah, as well as General Assembly members from these areas, attended the unveiling.

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In 2021, Georgia welcomed nearly 160 million visitors, resulting in $34.4 billion in direct visitor spending. The impact of this visitation on the economy generated more than $4 billion in state and local tax revenues and $64.5 billion in total economic impact.

“From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Golden Isles, Georgia is a beautiful state with destinations and experiences for everyone. When Georgians and visitors alike set out to enjoy that beauty and create memories, they support businesses across the state, generating jobs and tax revenues that benefit our communities, while experiencing a Georgia hospitality that will welcome them back again and again,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Many thanks to our Explore Georgia team for their dedication to promoting our state’s tourism offerings through visitor-driven strategies, including the travel guide. It plays a key role in marketing Georgia as a top travel destination and driving economic impact into local communities in every corner of the state.”

Informed by traveler sentiment research, the travel guide contains more than 125 pages of beautiful imagery and quality storytelling about destinations across the state. In addition to editorial coverage of metro Atlanta, the guide features destinations outside metro Atlanta in more than 75 percent of the content. Also new this year is the inclusion of QR codes throughout the publication, which offer readers access to even more inspirational content and trip ideas on the Explore Georgia website.

georgia tourism department

“Finding ways to better serve visitors’ interests and grow this year’s travel guide during a period of record inflation nationwide required innovation, creativity, and courage,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner for Tourism Mark Jaronski. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Kemp and Commissioner Wilson, the strength of our team, the support of the Georgia Tourism Foundation board of directors, and the rich stories we get to tell in Georgia, I am confident we did it. The 2023 travel guide features more in-depth storytelling than ever before and increased distribution in new places like the Georgia Aquarium and LakePoint Sports. This growth will advance our goals of driving ever-increasing levels of visitation and visitor spending across our state in the years to come.”

As part of this visitor-centered approach, Explore Georgia increased circulation of the  2023 Explore Georgia Official State Travel Guide  by 50 percent compared to 2022 to meet increased travel and consumer demand. The 750,000 guides are distributed to consumers online at the Explore Georgia website, by phone at 1-800-VISIT-GA, on-site at the nine Georgia Visitor Information Centers, and through a statewide network of tourism partners.

For more information about the  2023 Explore Georgia Official State Travel Guide , visit  ExploreGeorgia.org .

georgia tourism department

Credit Blane Marable Photography

About Explore Georgia Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is the state’s official destination marketing organization. Through its home office in Atlanta, nine visitor information centers, and a network of representatives across the globe, Explore Georgia inspires travel to and within the state through marketing programs developed and executed in partnership with the state’s travel industry. Despite COVID-19’s impact on the travel industry, Georgia’s tourism industry drove $64.5 billion in total economic impact and supported more than 422,600 jobs in 2021. Learn more at  ExploreGeorgia.org .

About GDEcD The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a destination for arts and location for film and entertainment projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. Visit  www.georgia.org  for more information.

georgia tourism department

Max Willadson

October 15, 2023 at 7:43 pm

Can I get a copy of the travel guide and a map mailed to me? I don’t have a computer just a telephone without much open space for internet. I will be visiting Georgia in November. My address is 46973 235th Trail. Chariton, Iowa 50049. Thanks so much!!!!

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May 7, 2021 2:49 PM

  • Dave Williams

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Tybee Island, Georgia

Beach locations like Tybee Island are popular destinations right now. Credit: Explore Georgia

When the coronavirus pandemic struck Georgia in March of last year, no industry shut down harder or faster than hospitality.

The leisure and hospitality sector lost 223,000 jobs statewide between February and April 2020.

In Atlanta, hotel occupancy plummeted from 74% in February of last year to just 9% in April.

“We’re a convention city,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “All of a sudden, the conventions canceled.”

“We lost half of March, all of April and most of May,” added Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, that city’s tourism promotion agency. “Losing those months was hard on us.”

But as the second Memorial Day of the COVID-19 era approaches, and with it the start of the summer vacation season, the signs point to a tourism recovery.

“We’re picking back up,” said Mark Jaronski, the deputy commissioner at the Georgia Department of Economic Development in charge of the agency’s tourism division. “The vaccine rollout has had the most positive effect on our visitation.”

Even during its worst days, the pandemic didn’t damage Georgia’s tourism industry as much as it hurt other states.

Jaronski credited the comparatively soft impact to Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision not to completely shut down the Georgia’s economy when he issued a shelter in place order in April 2020.

“Because we remained open, we were able to do better than the national average and many states,” he said.

While conventions, concerts and sporting events were shut down, Georgians began venturing out to the North Georgia mountains and the state’s beaches within weeks of Kemp’s order.

“People wanted to stay away from crowds and large group gatherings,” Jaronski said. “They were told by health experts and opinion leaders to stay away from groups, but maybe it’s OK to go to the beaches or mountains.”

There have even been some success stories during the pandemic. As the isolation afforded by camping sent sales of recreational vehicles soaring, visitation to state parks went up.

During fiscal year 2020, which ran through the end of June of last year, visits to state parks grew to 11.8 million, an increase of 562,000 over the previous year. Camping occupancy improved from 13% to 46%.

“Last year was quite a busy year,” said Kim Hatcher, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites Division. “Occupancy is definitely up, mostly for camping.”

With the continuing popularity of the beaches and mountains, the state’s leisure and hospitality industry had gained back 144,000 of the 223,000 jobs lost to the pandemic by March of this year, 65% of the total, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Even more convention-dependent cities have begun to bounce back from the pandemic.

Marinelli said weekend visits by leisure travelers began heading back up by mid-June of last year and are going strong heading into the summer.

“Leisure travel is a big winner right now,” he said. “With Savannah being a leisure destination, we’re fortunate.”

Pate said Atlanta is forecasting a similar increase in leisure travel this summer.

To help complete the recovery, the state has launched a new marketing campaign aimed at the pent-up demand for travel on the part of pandemic-weary Americans.

The campaign conjures up the image of a sprinter coiled at the starting line. Instead of “Ready. Set. Go,” the slogan is “Ready. Set. Georgia.”

Jaronski said the new campaign targets the growing number of Americans eager to travel longer distances than last year, either by driving or flying.

“Last year, we focused almost exclusively on in-state travelers,” he said. “Now, we’re expanding beyond Georgia to bordering states and places like New York, Chicago and Miami.”

Along with the yearly update of the Georgia travel guide, the state tourism division has at its disposal $1 million in grant funding earmarked in Kemp’s mid-year budget for tourism marketing.

Jaronski said half of that money will go to tourism promotion agencies across Georgia that depend on hotel-motel tax revenue, a source of funding severely depleted by the pandemic.

Pate said the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s revenue is down 65% this year.

“It’s had a significant impact on the revenues of CVBs across the state,” he said.

Jaronski said the other half of the state grant money will go to individual businesses in the hospitality industry that have been hurt by the pandemic, including hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Tourism projections show Georgia’s convention business will be the last to recover.

Pate said Atlanta has a “very strong” convention calendar booked for the last half of this year.

Marinelli said many of the conventions originally slated for Savannah last year or early this year have been postponed until late this year or early in 2022.

“People have to start going back to their home offices before [businesses] start sending them out to travel,” Jaronski said.

Similarly, sporting events are backloaded into this year’s calendar, including two Chick-fil-A Kickoff games over the Labor Day weekend at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to begin the college football season and the SEC Championship game in December.

Cobb County recently lost Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game due to be played in July at Truist Park as part of a protest over a controversial election overhaul Kemp signed in March. But Pate said no other scheduled events have threatened to pull  out .

Pate expects the tourism recovery will build on itself. As more and more people get outside, it will restore confidence that traveling is safe again, he said.

“Now that vaccines are pretty much available, people are out and about,” he said. “They want a vacation. They didn’t get one last year.”

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.

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About the author.

Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service

Dave Williams is the Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat News Service.

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