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June 13--Savannah's tourism industry is in growth mode, apparent not only by the bustling waterfront, packed trolleys and trendy restaurants opening, but an annual visitor volume and spending study released this week that shows just how much muscle this sector can flex.

According to the Longwood's International TravelUSA study for 2013, the total number of visitors to Savannah increased by 5 percent, from 12.4 million in 2012 to 13 million in 2013, while total visitor spending increased by nearly 11 percent from $2.07 billion to $2.29 billion.

Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, said this spending increase is significant, especially to companies looking to grow or expand their presence here.

"It's really impressive to see 11 percent growth in visitor spending and then to be able to see that translate into economic development," said Marinelli.

He says companies are paying attention to these metrics when making business decisions.

"I have to believe that companies like Jet Blue, Ben Carter Enterprises and the Kessler hotel company, I have to believe these companies are seeing this expansion," said Marinelli. "They obviously have a confidence level in Savannah, and the numbers support that."

For a full snapshot of tourism numbers with charts, check out Sunday's Savannah Morning News or

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