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OWENS: Savannah tourism solutions not always easy as they seem

In tourism, we aim to provide the guests with what they want. The research overwhelmingly shows that people come here to experience our history, architecture and lifestyle. A problem that I’m often faced with is a question that comes my way regularly: “Why can’t you bring tourism to my area?”


OWENS: Tourism, history and lots of stories

Have you heard of the Waving Girl? The statue of Florence Martus gilded in bronze off River Street depicts the young woman waving her handkerchief at ships passing by on the Savannah River.

OWENS: Ripple effect of tourism spending on our economy

What comes to mind when you think about tourism? Is it restaurant to retail or attractions to accommodations? I would say all of the above and so much more.

When we think through the number of how tourism performs in Savannah, we often look at the 26,000 workers who directly work in tourism or the $2.5 billion in outside spending to the businesses that serve the guests, but we don’t often look at the ripple effect.

OWENS: Organizations working together in Savannah

In Savannah, we’re fortunate to have a host of organizations tailored to diverse causes and ideas. There’s something for everyone.

If you’re a part of tourism or want to be a part of tourism, you should be a member of the Tourism Leadership Council or TLC. If you have a business location downtown, there’s the Savannah Downtown Business Association or SDBA.

OWENS: A review of the year in tourism in Savannah

This is the time of year for reflection. What did you do in 2015? What do you have planned for 2016?

If you’re in the tourism business or if your business supports the tourism community, then you can look back at 2015 with pride.

This year, tourism in Savannah was busy.

OWENS: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport making name for itself

This holiday season, as we make plans to see family and friends, you may be making your way through the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

Our airport stands as a dependable organization that houses the companies that get us where we need to go and safely brings thousands of people to us daily.

But maybe you haven’t thought much more about it than that.

OWENS: It's time for our annual tourism awards

Of the 26,000 people who work in tourism, the Tourism Leadership Council is looking for the best and brightest — the ones who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve the guest.

OWENS: Taste of Savannah evolves with changing food, wine landscape

Thousands of people joined me on Saturday at the Georgia Railroad Museum to celebrate all things food and wine.

It was the 15th annual Taste of Savannah, the signature event within the 3-year-old Savannah Food & Wine Festival.

OWENS: A few words — or more — of career advice

Maybe because tourism employs more people than any other industry in Savannah, I get a lot of people asking me about career advice.

So I decided to compile some of my favorite bits of advice for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level.

OWENS: Savannah can learn from Charleston concierge

t’s no secret there’s a rivalry between Savannah and Charleston. Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “Savannah is Charleston’s younger sister.” 

Like a good sibling rivalry, you’re stronger when you work together. I’ve seen this be the case in tourism.

OWENS: There's always a need for networking

It’s no secret that the way to do business in this town is to network.

You have to get out there, make the connections, meet the people and press some palms to get in the door. And, thankfully, in this town most people want to do business with locals.

OWENS: Keeping business fresh

Tourism in Georgia is a $57 billion community. That’s why each year Georgia has the Governor’s Tourism Conference, the oldest tourism conference in the nation.

This year, Savannah played welcomed more than 500 tourism professionals from around the state.

OWENS: The real deal on economic development

Maybe you’ve spotted some Hollywood celebrities around town. Even if you haven’t seen the stars, you can see the light they’re casting on Savannah in terms of economic development.

We talk a lot about economic development in the tourism world. But what does it really mean?

OWENS: We're all in hospitality business

Welcome to the tourism community. You might work in the hospitality industry whether you realize it or not.

In fact, we’re a community made up of unexpected hospitality professionals who are masters of customer service. After all, we are the “Hostess City of the South.”

OWENS: How the hotel tax breaks down

I’ve heard much discussion about how the hotel/motel tax should be used, but it’s actually all set by Georgia state law. In our tourism community, we often refer to it as the lodging tax or bed tax.

OWENS: Certifying Savannah's concierge program

“What can I do to be better at my job?”

As an employer and as a representative of the community that employs more than any other industry in Savannah, I can tell you that I love that question.

It’s an employee seeking education, and it’s at the heart of what we do at the Tourism Leadership Council.

Certifying Savannah's concierge program

OWENS: Moving guests around the city of Savannah

With a thriving tourism community and plenty of guests, one of the main issues we face is moving those visitors around the city.

A lot of effort goes into transportation’s role in tourism.

Old Town Trolley Tours offers tours running every 15 minutes with 15 stops encompassing 152 points of interest. When riders get off the trolley to visit a particular point of interest, they can expect another trolley to arrive 15 minutes later and, upon re-boarding, the tour picks up where it left off. Courtesy of Old Town Trolley Tours

OWENS: Movies and their impact on Savannah tourism

It’s getting to be that hot part of summer that beckons us all to duck away inside the cool retreat of the movie theater. With so many great summer blockbusters, the theater is the perfect fit for the Savannah guest who wants to take a break from our summer warmth. In fact, film and tourism have a long history together.

OWENS: Movies and their impact on Savannah tourism

OWENS: New things on horizon for Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Like a good wine, most things are better with time.

The same is true with the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. We’re gearing up for our third year, and we’ve learned a lot in the first two. Some exciting things are on the horizon for this year’s festival.

New things on horizon for Savannah Food & Wine Festival

OWENS: Sharing tourism in our public schools

Before the school bell rings for summer, most of the children in Georgia public schools will be exposed to several different careers. It’s all part of the state requirement called the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which involves K-12 students having access to several different careers in the classroom and with professionals from that industry.