Sports Tourism Scores Big for Dalton and Whitfield County Economy

Sports Tourism Scores Big for Dalton and Whitfield County Economy
Photo courtesy: City of Dalton

Dalton and Whitfield County are reaping the economic benefits of tourism, particularly in the realm of sports tourism, according to Margaret Thigpen, the Tourism Director for the Dalton-Whitfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thigpen shared updated tourism statistics during a recent presentation to local officials and stakeholders. She highlighted the significant impact of sports-related tourism on the area’s economy, citing data from Sports ETA (Events and Tourism Association). Georgia ranked 9th in the nation for economic impact from sports tourism, with Dalton and Whitfield County emerging as a growing destination for such activities.

The region hosts numerous youth and adult tournaments throughout the year, attracting visitors from both nearby and distant locations. This week, for instance, the Dalton Golf and Country Club is hosting the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship Tournament.

Thigpen emphasized the collaborative effort of the community in nurturing this niche market, acknowledging the contributions of the city and county’s Parks and Recreation departments, as well as surrounding areas like Varnell and Cohutta.

The significance of tourism extends beyond sports, with overall tourism spending in Whitfield County reaching $162.7 million in 2022. This influx of visitors created 1,438 local jobs and generated substantial tax revenue, amounting to $13.9 million in state and local taxes and $8.7 million in federal taxes.

Thigpen highlighted the tangible benefits for residents, noting that without tourism, each person in Whitfield County would face higher tax burdens. The impact extends to state and federal taxes, with tourism playing a vital role in alleviating the financial burden on both individuals and the community as a whole.

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