Columbus tourism targeting millennials and softer activities for tourists

Published on : Friday, August 18, 2017

Columbus tourismA changing leisure market has prompted the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau to think about what type of travelers it will seek to attract in the future, and how it will go about doing it.


The reassessment is partly because of tourism dynamics changing from generation to generation, with many destinations becoming hot and others fading away in appeal with passing time.


Peter Bowden, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “We realized that our leisure market was changing dramatically because of things that were happening at Fort Benning with that leisure market, with smaller graduation classes and that sort of thing due to sequestration. We knew we needed to be as proactive as possible for that.”


Earlier this year, the bureau commissioned Nashville, Tennessee-based Gray Research Solutions to study the trends and recommend what type of traveler the city should go after with its marketing dollars. Millennials should be a target market, particularly those traveling with multiple generations, such as families that include grandparents with their children and grandchildren.


Secondly, besides adventure trips such as whitewater rafting, there also needs to be an additional focus on “softer” things to do. That can be simply floating peacefully in a raft down the river or hanging out on a paddleboard in a local lake or on calmer areas of the Chattahoochee River.


Part of the strategy is making sure that all the visitation stakeholders are on the same page. That includes tourism destinations such as the local museums and performance venues, as well as restaurants where people have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the hotels in which visitors will stay at night after a day of touring the city’s sights, food and culture.


The stakes are high for Columbus-area residents, Bowden said, with tourism a great economic driver, generating an overall impact approaching $350 million each year. That includes money spent at local businesses, jobs created because of the infusion of travelers, and sales tax revenue generated for city coffers.


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