From the Cherry Blossom Festival to Tubman Museum, how Macon tourism drop impacts you

When people stopped traveling to Macon-Bibb County during the coronavirus pandemic, fewer people stayed in the area’s hotels, reducing the amount of taxes the county receives for those hotel rooms.

The Hotel/Motel Excise Tax supports 10 organizations and events in Bibb County in addition to a small percentage going to the general fund; with the revenues dramatically declining during the COVID-19 outbreak, those organizations have suffered a major blow.

Visit Macon, the promotional organization that brings tourists and events to Macon, receives the largest portion of the tax, which makes up around 85% of its budget, said Gary Wheat, the president and CEO of Visit Macon.

“This is something in my 20-plus years that our industry did not see coming, whether that was the great recession or things and events that we’ve been through in our time that have impacted travel, but nothing like the pandemic to the point where people quit traveling, and that hit our hotels hard,” Wheat said.

Although Visit Macon brings films, sports and other events to Macon, Wheat said a major result of their work is improving the bottom line of Macon-Bibb County residents.

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