Local News


Rise in tourism gives boost to fiscal year

By SARAH LUNDGREN The Brunswick News

Despite rising gas prices, more tourists are traveling to the Golden Isles.

Scott McQuade, executive director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, told members of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce at a chamber meeting Wednesday that the fiscal year is already looking to top last year's record year for tourism.

The fiscal year ends June 30.

McQuade said both January and February bed tax collections are tracking above the 2013 fiscal year. January originally came in flat in comparison, but late numbers now put it at more than 6 percent ahead of the previous January and February,

"We're pleased with the winter's performance considering how chilly it's been," McQuade said. "It seems that less folks are coming in for the weekend from Atlanta and more are coming from the north to escape the winter."

The lodging pace report for the next six months continues to show positive growth, he added, with occupancy rates tracking 14.5 percent above last year.

"It's a really good sign. The rooms are filling up and certainly it seems the lodgers are quite happy. Revenue per room is up too," McQuade said.

August alone had an occupancy rate that was 40 percent higher than the year before.

Joining tourists in the Golden Isles will be HGTV and Live Well Network, which plan to film in the area.

That was not the only good news chamber members heard. Quaker City Plating, a California-based manufacturer specializing in electroplating of aviation parts, will celebrate a grand opening next week.

Mel Baxter, chairman of the board of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, told the chamber the company will bring at least 20 jobs to the area.

It's grand opening is slated for 4 p.m. April 24 at its facility at 2573 Sidney Lanier Drive in the Brunswick-McBride Industrial Park.

Baxter said three existing companies in the area are looking to expand and are working with the development authority.

The chamber also announced that its former headquarters, 4 Glynn Avenue, may be going up on the open market.

The chamber offered to sell it to the Georgia Trust, a historic preservation society based out of Atlanta, but had not heard back from the organization by the April 11 cut-off date.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.