Despite setbacks at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Spurgeon Richardson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, believes the city will continue to attract tourists from abroad, he told GlobalAtlanta last week.

Even with the delay of construction of a new $ 1 billion international terminal, the possible bankruptcy of Delta Air Lines Inc. and continued renovations to the airport, including the construction of a $1.25 billion runway, Mr. Richardson did not believe that visitors would be swayed from coming to Atlanta.

Instead, he believed that the new, fifth runway at the airport, which is to open in May, would attract additional passengers and cut down on the amount of time arriving planes spend circling in the air, waiting for clearance to land.

During an Economic Forecasting Conference held at Georgia State University Aug. 24, Mr. Richardson said that more than 90,000 hotel rooms in the Metro Atlanta area and a solid transportation infrastructure were responsible for putting the city on the map as a center for meetings and conventions. He cited the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s access from the airport to downtown as being a contributor to the city’s ability to attract approximately 75 conventions annually.

He also said that he expected to see an increase in visitors coming to Atlanta by fall 2006 as a result of a developing leisure tourism market in the city. He cited the construction of Atlantic Station LLC, which offers shopping, entertainment, commercial and residential opportunities north of downtown and west of Interstates 75 and 85 and the opening of the $200 million Georgia Aquarium in November, as key developments in Atlanta’s leisure tourism market.

He also cited the expansion of the High Museum and its partnership with the Louvre Museum in Paris, which will bring in visiting masterpieces from France beginning in fall 2006, as attractions for both domestic and international tourists to the city. More than 18 million tourists visited the city in 2004, the ACVB reported.

Mr. Richardson, who was president and general manager of Six Flags Over Georgia Ltd. before joining the ACVB, said that the city was planning to announce Atlanta’s new tagline and logo on Nov. 11, which have been developed to help make Atlanta more marketable to potential visitors.

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