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Leaders, businesses aim for part of tourists' time, money

Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Columbia County leaders intend to extol the virtues of their community Friday at the Interstate 20 welcome center for National Tourism Week.

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"We're having different local leaders come from between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. just to talk

to visitors about their favorite parts of Columbia County," said Beda Johnson, the executive director of the county Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"A lot of people have agreed to come out and just chat up folks dropping by there."

Among the volunteers signing up are County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, Development Authority Executive Director Troy Post and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Tingen.

"Friday is a really busy day for traveling," Johnson said. "We're hoping if they stop in to go to wherever that they'll pull off the highway and spend some money before going on to their destination."

Johnson is hoping to persuade area hoteliers and restaurateurs to set up tables at the welcome center near the South Carolina line during the week to attract tourism money to the county.

National Tourism Week, meant to promote the travel industry, started last week and concludes this weekend.

In Columbia County, tourists spent nearly $107 million last year, according to figures provided by Johnson.

About 1,140 people are employed in tourism-related fields in the county.

Tourism, according to the statistics, generated more than $3.9 million in state taxes and $3.24 million in county taxes in 2008.



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