|By Leon Stafford, The Atlanta
Journal-ConstitutionMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 24,2011--After pulling back during the recession, tourists are once again coming to metro Atlanta.
About 37 million people visited the area in 2010, up 3 million visitors from the year before, according to newly released figures from D.K. Shifflet & Associates, which conducts visitation research for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
That pushed visitation spending to $10.9 billion, up from the $9.8 billion the year before, the report said.
The increases are critical for metro Atlanta. The area has the fourth largest share of hotel rooms in the nation and employs more than 200,000 in the hospitality industry through restaurants, attractions, convention centers and retail shopping.
"These are good results," said Debby Cannon, director of the School of Hospitality at Georgia State University. She believes part of the bump has come from international travelers, regional visitors and conventioneers staying an extra day.
"People are realizing they have to have a quality of life," she said. "They have to get out. We are seeing frugality fatigue."
Tyler Pearson, a spokesman for the ACVB, said visitation last reached 37 million in 2007.
"We're pretty much where we were pre-recession," he said.
Well almost. Visitor spending, which peaked in 2006 and 2007 at $11.4 billion, is a little weaker. It was $10.2 billion in 2005.
According to the 2010 report, overnight business trips increased 6 percent in 2010 over 2009. Day business travel was up 9 percent in 2010 compared to 2009 while overnight leisure travel increased 8 percent in 2010.
"There were increases across the board," Pearson said.
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