Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Amelia Island Surviving Tough Times for Tourism

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Amelia Island Surviving Tough Times for Tourism

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Boyle

There is no use denying the facts. Amelia Island's tourism industry - like the rest of Florida and the United States - is feeling the effects of a struggling global economy. Yet, despite the downturn, Amelia Island has enjoyed recent trend-defying growth and improvement of our local tourism product, which is a very positive development, and a sign of our local industry's health and resilience.

Tourism plays a critical role in our Nassau County economy. One in five jobs and one in four businesses, are tourism-related here. Tourism generates more than $346 million in total sales and 36 percent of the sales tax in the county.

But there is another side to the local tourism picture that may escape attention, and that is the construction piece, the actual "bricks and mortar" of our businesses. At a time when new construction and renovations have been extremely hard-hit, a lot has been happening right here on our island.

On Aug. 20, the new Marriott Residence Inn Amelia Island opened its doors on Sadler Road, becoming the island's newest hotel. Ideal for leisure and corporate customers, the 133-suite hotel in Fernandina Beach can accommodate small and large meetings. Fernandina's historic harborfront Hampton Inn and Suites is beginning an extensive renovation of guest rooms, meeting space and common areas. And on the other end of the island, the multi-million dollar ballroom addition at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is nearly finished. When completed this fall, the project will add 12,000 square feet of new meeting space to the luxury property, making it one of the largest conference hotels in the region.

It's important to understand that these new projects will not only help attract future tourism dollars to our community, but their construction gave an immediate shot-in-the-arm to our construction industry. In addition to creating jobs, the new construction, renovations and expansions represent a combined $45 million in spending, which circulated several times through the local economy. …

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