History is important in any community, but locally, ours offers much more than collective memories we can all discuss. Our local history has a significant economic impact.
A piece of that was noted recently by a National Park Service report that showed Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island provides our area with around $14.3 million in economic impact. The report showed that despite a decline in spending by park visitors in recent years, things are looking up. Fort Frederica supports 165 jobs and attracted 188,089 visitors in 2017. Those visitors spent around $10.7 million at establishments within 60 miles of the fort. That alone is impressive for a single monument tucked away on the north end of St. Simons Island.
Combined with other historical attractions in the area, though, and the importance our past in attracting future visitors becomes clear.
Whether it is the St. Simons Island Lighthouse, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Historic Site, Jekyll Island’s Millionaires’ Village, downtown Brunswick or any other place of historical significance in the Golden Isles, they are places that draw new people into our community and expose them to the unique qualities of our area.
Nationally and internationally, the popularity of history-based tourism, often called heritage tourism, continues to grow. Studies have shown that people traveling to see historic sites and relive moments from the past stay in places longer and therefore often spend more money than other tourists.
Statewide, Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites generated more than $1 billion to the state’s economy, according to a figures released by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources a year ago. That only considers state-run sites, and not Fort Frederica.
Around Georgia, national parks and sites in Georgia generated $384 million and attracted 7.4 million people.
Considering those numbers, we are lucky to have places of historic value here. They compliment our beaches, marshes and natural splendor to help bolster the local tourism industry, which is a more than $1 billion endeavor annually.
When an economic driver like that is at stake, it is good to have a diverse set of attractions to keep the people coming back year after year. Fort Frederica is clearly part of that equation.