On April 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 318, legislation that changes the procedures of the Georgia Tourism Development Act. The bill allows sales tax exemptions for certain approved projects in order to stimulate the creation of tourism attractions or the expansion of existing attractions.
"This legislation bolsters one of Georgia's most important industries," said Deal. “With these new incentives, we hope to grow the industry even more by encouraging the construction of new attractions. An existing Georgia business, such as the Atlanta Motor Speedway, also stands to benefit if it chooses to significantly expand or improve its campus. However, this bill is about more than any one location. It is about creating jobs for Georgians and taking another step toward making our state the best place in the nation in which to do business.”
“Tourism is already a giant industry in Georgia,” said Ed Clark, President and General Manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway “This legislation will allow for the creation of more major events and hosting facilities to add to the outstanding complement of events the state already has. Both our Chairman Bruton Smith and myself were proud that Governor Deal chose the home of the largest auto racing event in Georgia to make this legislation official.”
The revision of the Tourism Act is based on the extensive work of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and will allow certain companies that build new attractions to maintain a portion of their sales tax revenues for 10 years.
Under the new law, each project is required to meet the follow criteria:
· Must cost a minimum of $1 million
· Must attract at least 25 percent of its visitors from out of state by its third year
· Must not directly compete with existing Georgia businesses
According to GDEcD, the tourism industry employed around 400,000 Georgians in 2011, with 10.3 percent of all jobs in the state either directly or indirectly sustained by tourism activities. Also in that year, tourism generated more than $49 billion in total economic impact for the state.