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Isles tourism industry on rise
The worst might be over for the tourism industry in the Golden Isles.

Following years of declining revenues during the Great Recession, the 2012-2013 fiscal year is on pace to match the best year on record, said Scott McQuade, executive director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, at an industry-wide tourism meeting Friday.

Lodging taxes, an indication of how many people are staying in the area, began to increase to pre-recession levels in 2011 with $4.91 million collected.

About $4.7 million was collected in the peak years 2007-2008.

So far this year, $2.3 million in bed taxes have been collected. That's the same amount generated by this time during the record year 2007.

"Can I say it's time to go into the streets and celebrate? No," McQuade said. "But I can say that tourism is coming back and coming back strong."

The impacts might not be felt across all of Glynn County's 400 tourism-related businesses because ancillary spending is still down nationwide.

"People are less apt to spend those discretionary dollars on their vacation," McQuade said. "The good news is they're coming. The bad news is their spending hasn't returned to pre-recession levels."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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