A recent study issued by Georgia Southern University's Bureau of Business Research & Economic Development found that Splash in the Boro had an economic impact of $8.6 million in the local economy in 2009, up from just over $5.2 million in 2008.
Utilizing data from the 154,034 visitors that attended Splash in the Boro last summer, the study revealed the primary factor in the increased attendance was a $4 million expansion that opened in 2009.
"We had hoped, of course, that the addition of the Mat Racer slide, the Flowrider, the new 6,000 sq. ft. Spray Pad, as well as additional support facilities such as ticket windows, restrooms, and concessions would really increase the park's attendance," said Chad Avret, director of operations for the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department. "I feel that an increase of this magnitude has to be attributed to the park's improvements."
The SBPRD requested that the bureau estimate the economic impact of Splash. The study, prepared by Benjamin McKay, research associate for the bureau, used 2009 attendance figures provided by the SBPRD.
"We collect very detailed attendance information," Avret said. "Aside from age related information, we record resident and nonresident data through the fees that we collect. I think people would be surprised at the percentage of our attendance that is nonresident."
Bulloch County residents comprised approximately 20 percent of the attendees to Splash in 2009. The other 80 percent of Splash users were from other counties in Georgia as well as other states.
"We expect to have between 150,000 and 160,000 guests this year," Avret said. "You really just don't know, because weather plays such an important part. Right now, we are 11 days into the season, and we are 30 percent ahead in attendance from where we were this time last year. But, you can't expect that to continue necessarily. We will just have to see."
The SBPRD calculated the average per capita spending at Splash last year to be about $11 per visitor per day. Additionally, when non-county residents came to Splash, they also made other stops in Bulloch County. The BBRED used the 2007 Travel Profile-Georgia State Travel Economic Regional Analysis report's finding that the average spending on a day trip was $50 per person per day. The combined outlay at Splash and other stops within the county resulted in the overall economic impact generated by non-county residents.
"We keep very close track of where our guests are from," Avret said. "We ask each guest their county of residence, and keep numbers on individual counties in our surrounding area. This has a big impact on how we market the park. For the first time this year, we are tracking the Macon and Augusta areas specifically."
While the largest impact is in the retail trade sector of the economy, including food services and entertainment, the number of jobs that the park provides for young people has become very important.
"The expansion also resulted in 62 additional local jobs, bringing the total number of jobs created as a result of Splash in the Boro to 161," said Steve Brown, aquatics division manager for the park. "Many of the young people that work here over the summer season are college students. These jobs enable them to stay in Statesboro and to keep supporting our local economy. One of the real positives is that we can provide a very flexible schedule."
Brown said in addition to teaching skills associated with their job, he really tries to teach character skills as well. "We want our young folks to learn responsibility, customer service, and really all of the facets of being a good employee, as well as serving others," he said. "We want them to take more away from this job than just a paycheck."
The park will be open for 83 days this summer season. For details on admission rates, dates of operation, and park guidelines, you can call (912) 489-3000 or visit www.splashintheboro.com