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CAIRO —The City of Cairo today announced it has been awarded a Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant in the amount of $18,616.99 from Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program supports marketing efforts to bolster the recovery of Georgia’s tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The City of Cairo was among 34 tourism entities across 27 counties who received a combined total of nearly $1.5 million in recovery marketing funding as part of this one-time grant program.

Governor Brian Kemp and the General Assembly approved $1 million in the amended FY21 state budget for tourism recovery. Because of the substantial number of grant applications — from 58 organizations totaling nearly $2.5 million in funding requests — Explore Georgia contributed an additional $1 million from the state tourism marketing budget to fund as many grants as possible. The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing program also includes $500,000 in co-op matching funds, for a total of $2 million in recovery support. 

Beginning in the City’s fiscal year 21-22 starting in July, the economic development department will be expanded to include a tourism manager who will oversee this grant and the campaign. The proposed marketing campaign will cover the entire county and all attractions consisting of paid social media advertising, video and print advertising, and use of billboards. 

“Our goal is to heavily promote Grady County and all the attractions here by not only taking a regional approach but expanding our reach across the tri-state area (Georgia, Florida, and Alabama) to attract visitors to come eat, shop, stay or live,” said Alyssa Blakley, City of Cairo Marketing Director. 

“Georgia is a beautiful state and as we continue to recover, I look forward to working alongside our industry partners to promote the state’s incredible tourism assets to travelers across the globe,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of GDEcD. “These grants are an important tool for our industry organizations, the majority of which are small businesses, to begin their recovery efforts. We are dedicated to rebuilding travel and tourism across our state because Georgia’s diverse economy cannot fully recover until our tourism and hospitality industry is thriving once again.” 

The Explore Georgia Tourism Recovery Marketing Grant program was designed to provide relief to areas of the state most impacted by the drop in tourism and will fund promotional efforts to aid the travel industry’s recovery in 2021. The grants awarded have prioritized organizations and communities that have experienced the greatest impact from the loss of visitors and subsequent tourism spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As we head into a summer when we expect to see a tremendous reemergence of domestic tourism and the economic prosperity that travel brings, the funding of these grants recognizes the importance of communicating the diversity of visitor experiences across Georgia that are close to home for so many Americans,” said Mark Jaronski, deputy commissioner of tourism at GDEcD. “Thanks to a great working relationship with our destination marketing partners across the state, we believe that we can be most effective in what’s expected to be an incredibly competitive landscape by marketing Georgia to the American public together and complementing the state’s tourism recovery campaign Ready. Set. Georgia.” 

The applications were evaluated based on need, quantified by the year-over-year loss in Hotel-Motel Excise Tax collections for the organization, and the change in unemployment in the organization’s county. Grant recipients received 100% of the award amount requested on their applications.

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