$15,000 in grant funding allocated to tourism development
Story by: Pete Prybylski, The Red & Black
The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), The Classic Center and The Classic Center Cultural Foundation announced in a press release on July 7 the recipients of the Athens Local Product Development Grant: State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Ciné and Popfest.
Established in 2017, the Athens Local Product Development Grant functions as a one-to-one matching program that aims to develop tourism in Athens by funding local organizations. The goal is to bring more visitors, and thus money, into town. A total of $15,000 will be awarded to the recipients through the grant.
According to statistics provided by the CVB in the press release, tourism contributes $281.31 million in spending to the town, as well as 2,664 jobs and $19.04 million in local and state tax revenues. The organization’s primary goal is "to increase the economic impact of the hospitality and visitor industry by attracting individual visitors, group tours and meetings and conventions to Athens."
Collaborating with the CVB in this project are The Classic Center and The Classic Center Cultural Foundation. The Cultural Foundation is an organization that works to provide cultural programming to Athenians in the form of "diverse performing, visual and culinary arts programs." The organization is also charged with maintenance of The Classic Center, the major multi-use conference center located in downtown Athens.
"We are excited to be able to make this investment in tourism product development," CVB Director Chuck Jones said in the press release. "By collaborating with local partners, we can make the best use of funds to enhance our tourism products and increase the economic impact through growth in overnight visitors."
According to the press release, the grant looks to generate "big dividends" for the local economy through the increased sales tax revenues and support for local business generated by tourism.
The decision to distribute grant funding was made through an application process. Applications looked to measure "the strength of the applicant’s intent and ability to attract visitors and lodging nights from outside of Athens."
With the grant funding, The State Botanical Garden of Georgia will host a Garden Travel Series this coming January, a time the press release described as a slower for Athens tourism. Ciné plans to run a three-day, three-night program called "Ciné Filmmaker and Television Artist in Residency." Popfest, itself already a major tourist event, will be using funds to expand advertising for the four-day August music festival.