Voice of Tourism

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In an industry that purports big economic impact and tangibles in the dollars, it’s important to remember the people that make up tourism.
Like Leonard Massey. He’s the general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites on Bay Street, a popular hotel in the heart of the historic district.
He’s the picture of success, but his story didn’t start out that way.
Massey was raised in Savannah by a single parent with 6 children. If he were to follow the pattern laid out before him, he would walk down the path of poverty.

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It’s hard to live in this city and not be touched by tourism.
If you’re not one of the 23,000 people who serve our city’s guests, then you may work for a company that supports the industry. That means the power company that lights the hotel rooms and the printing company that prints the menus are also “tourism.”

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If you’re reading this, then you’re giving me one more reason to say thanks.
That’s because if you’re reading this then you’re sharing in this message delivered to you by the media.
I’ve lived in big media markets where media are cut-throat and everyone is out for themselves. In this market, it seems people work together for the betterment of the community.
It’s refreshing—especially for the people I work with on a daily basis. These are the hundreds of small business owners that make up the tourism industry.

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This may not shock you, but it was a surprise to some of the people I was talking to the other day.
I asked this group of friends, “What do you think is the number one thing our guests do when the 12 million plus people come visit Savannah?”
If you’re like my friends, you may have guessed taking a tour. It’s true many of the millions take tours.
But, the number one activity our visitors engage in is shopping. It was an eye opener for something that we don’t often think of: retail is tourism.

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It isn’t surprising to see people coming to Savannah to try some of our world-famous Southern cuisine, but we haven’t seen this many foodies flock here all at once until the Savannah Food & Wine Festival kicking off next week.