Hundreds flocked to Covington this weekend, and it was exactly the turnout Newton County Tourism President Jenny McDonald expected, but it was a little much for Newton County-Covington Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Staffins.
“I was floored,” Staffins said during his chamber presentation to the Covington city council Monday night. “We had 600 people here (for The Vampire Diaries finale); 150 lined up at the Lions Club for pancakes the next morning. It astonished me really.”
The season finale celebration on the Square was just one example of how the film industry has been a tourism boost to Covington. Staffins reported to the council that 30,360 visitors came to the city in 2014 - 6.4 percent more than in 2013. That number is a 105 percent increase since 2010, when The Vampire Diaries began.
Staffins told the council that Newton County’s tourism industry generated $113.84 million in direct tourist spending; created $4.41 million in state tax revenues; and generated $3.42 million in local tax revenues.
That boils down to $227.68 in tax relief for each Newton County household as a result of the taxes generated by tourism.
That money has come from international visitors, with people coming from 39 countries in 2014.
Staffins presentation also included economic development information with 12 commercial/retail projects closed in 2014 and 12 more remaining active and eight industrial projects closed in 2014 and 16 remaining active.
That industrial expansion brought 981 full time jobs and approximately $125 million in investment to Newton County, according to Staffins.