VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority will host the 2005 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

The conference is headed by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In September, Executive Director Marty Brown, Director of Tourism and Convention Sales Lacy Adams and Sales and Marketing Director Lee McMichael attended the conference held in Statesboro.

The conference offered information on travel industry trends, economic forecasting, tourism product development and marketing strategies to help attract more visitors to Valdosta, Lowndes County and the state. Some 500 of the state's top tourism and hospitality industry professionals attended the conference, including legislators, representatives from leading corporations, Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Directors and Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Recent research released shows a positive trend for travel in 2004 with hotel revenue increasing as much as 14 percent on Georgia's coast, reflecting the tiered rates for the G-8 Summit, and showing an average increase in hotel revenue of over 8 percent statewide.

Tourism is Georgia's second largest industry with revenues exceeding $24.7 billion in 2003. The tourism industry is responsible for more than 209,500 jobs and $6 billion in resident wages in Georgia.

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