on Savannahnow.com, a division of the Savannah Morning News, "Savannah’s tourism industry generated calculator-challenging numbers in 2011, including 12,100,000 (number of visitors) and $1,950,000,000 (visitor spending)."
The numbers are up in almost every category according to a Longwoods International, TravelUSA study. When the numbers were compared to 2010, 2011 proved to be a record year for Savannah tourism. For example, as noted by Savannah.com, "The 12.1 million total visitors represented a 6 percent increase over 2010, with a 500,000 increase in overnight travelers and a 200,000 uptick in day-trippers. Spending grew by 15 percent, from $1.7 billion to $1.95 billion."
Looking at three of the most popular areas in Savannah illustrates why the city is such a destination hot spot for travelers.
As savannah.com notes
, "River Street is a glittering, multi-faceted gem along the broad Savannah River." There are centuries-old buildings that now house fabulous restaurants, candy stores, inns, and much more. Residents and visitors alike can take a cruise or watch ships from around the globe sail into or out of one of the busiest ports in America.
Parks, squares, churches, antebellum homes, cemeteries, and horse-drawn carriage tours are among the attractions found in historic downtown Savannah. The Forsyth Park Fountain, located at the corner of Drayton and Gaston Streets, was created in 1858 and restored in 1988.
There are 24 squares
in Savannah including Reynolds Square where the John Wesley Monument
is located. Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of Methodism.
The Colonial Park Cemetery
is located in the historic downtown area and is the final resting place for a number of Georgia's founding families, including Button Gwinnett. Gwinnet (1735-1777) was Georgia's signer of the Declaration of Independence and he was the President of Georgia.
Carriage Tours of historic downtown Savannah are popular with tourists and locals.
Known as "Savannah's Beach," Tybee Island is about a twenty-minute drive east of the city. Tybee Island features "five miles of public beach backed by undulating sand dunes waving their sea oats and endless views of the Atlantic Ocean," states
Tourism numbers were flat in one key statistic. The average length of stay for overnight visitors remained at 2.5 days in 2010 and 2011. Savannahnow.com states, "Like many of its peers — Charleston, S.C. and Asheville, N.C., for example — Savannah is more a 'getaway' destination than a 'vacation' destination. The city is a 'drive market' for residents of Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando and for those who live in the Interstate 75 and Interstate 95 corridors heading south to Florida."
Yet, Savannah truly is a "hot spot" for those seeking a warm travel destination at almost anytime of the year. Savannahnow.com reports
that a La Nina weather pattern kept temperatures "well above normal in the winter months" and temperatures during the summer months are expected to be above normal. And, the price of gas may also be a draw for visitors. Gas prices in Savannah have been going down
and were recently at $3.35 a gallon, compared to the national average of $3.65 a gallon.
Overall, though, it is "One of the most beautiful cities in the world and a wonderful place to make your home or vacation destination," states
the Official Savannah Guide.