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Businesses hope for good weekend
Juliana Germano hopes Labor Day weekend will be a strong close to the tourism season for her businesses on Jekyll Island.

Labor Day weekend, marking the end of the summer vacation season, usually draws tourists to the Golden Isles for one last weekend of relaxation.

Germano owns the Commissary and Island House on Jekyll and is crossing her fingers that this year's Labor Day weekend will meet the standard set last year.

"Last year we had an awesome Labor Day so I'm hopeful that people will come and stay the whole week," Germano said. "Typically Labor Day is a soft holiday for us, but last year blew me away."

Eric Garvey, chief communications officer for the Jekyll Island Authority, said Thursday the island's hotels were filling up, and hoteliers were anticipating a strong weekend.

"Last time I checked earlier this week the hotels were looking pretty good and filling up, and most were around 90 percent," Garvey said. "We still have some rooms, and it looks like we're going to be near capacity."

The tourism year has been good, Garvey said, and Labor Day provides the last influx of guests before fall conventions and golf tournaments.

"September is a lull which is unfortunate because it's actually such a wonderful time to be on the island," Garvey said.

Scott McQuade, director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, says it's been a strong tourism year across the area.

"As far as the year was concerned, we're very encouraged," McQuade said. "Overall we're just under an 8 percent increase in accommodation tax collections for the year and when we look at that in comparison to 2010 we're actually up 14 percent."

That puts Glynn County's accommodation taxes -- a measurement of how many people travel to the area -- above the national average, which increased 3 percent.

"Glynn County has seen a very healthy comeback," McQuade said.

But July might not have fared as well.

"We're very interested what July produces. I've heard from several hoteliers that July did not perform as well as so many of the other months this year. July is expected to potentially be flat (with last year) but when we look at look August, it's looking very strong," McQuade said.

That leaves business owners hoping that Labor Day weekend will bring momentum that will carry them through the rest of the year.

Jan Sala, a property manager at Real Escapes Properties that rents units on St. Simons Island, said her rentals are up over the past three years and was anticipating a strong Labor Day.

"We are probably about maybe half full right now, but our phone has been ringing off the hook so we've been getting a lot of last-minute rentals," Sala said Thursday. "Most of our guests are going to arrive on Friday and depart on Monday."

Michael Gowan, co-owner of Southeast Adventure Outfitters, is hoping the weather cooperates with planned kayaking tours.

"A lot of our kayaking depends on how good the weather is going to look but it's a pretty good a forecast, and we're hoping to take a lot of people out," Gowan said.

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