In only the second year, officials with the Dodge Tour de Georgia project a $20 to $30 million boost to the Georgia economy. The value provided to its charitable beneficiary, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, is expected to surpass $2.5 million, doubling the number from 2003. The 2004 Dodge Tour de Georgia, the country's premier, professional cycling stage race, will visit 11 host cities in six days, from Tuesday, April 20 to Sunday, April 25.

As a world-class sporting event, the Dodge Tour de Georgia is defined in part by the 128 elite, professional cyclists who will compete in seven stage races, traversing 649 miles across Georgia in six days. As a vehicle to promote tourism and stimulate economic growth, the race is defined by the thousands of visitors and volunteers who plan to visit from across Georgia, the U.S. and abroad. From just the impact of media, officials, teams, and support personnel, local communities will see an immediate impact from 3,000 room nights and over 7,000 meals.

“The Dodge Tour de Georgia showcases the best professional cyclists from North America and around the world, but also entertains a significant number of media and visitors, and employs a wide variety of Georgia vendors. With Lance Armstrong racing, we anticipate 750,000 to one million spectators for this one week,” said Stan Holm, executive director of the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Last year the Dodge Tour de Georgia attracted over 250,000 spectators.

The event is owned and operated by the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development (GPED), a non-profit foundation of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Tourism is Georgia's second largest industry behind agriculture.

“If just 10% of the estimated one million fans visit from out of state, and they stay just two nights, we know the immediate impact to the Georgia economy will be $20 million. This is based on research done by the Travel Industry Association of America that quantifies an average visitor to Georgia spends $109 per overnight visit (room, food, gas, goods). And the best part is that our economy and our local communities feel the impact immediately, not later,” said Janice Cannon, Deputy Commissioner of Tourism for the state of Georgia. Multi-day visitors are one key reason why there is a Dodge Tour de Georgia.

A great deal of attention will be on cycling this year, since many elite athletes vie to represent their countries in the Olympic Games in road, time trial or track disciplines of cycling in August. And, five-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong seeks his record sixth consecutive win on the Champs-Elysees in July. Part of the reason for a significant increase in media and spectator interest in the Dodge Tour de Georgia this year is because Armstrong will compete in the event with his USPS Pro Cycling team, presented by Berry Floor. It will be the only stage race Armstrong is expected to enter in North America this year, and the only event in the U.S. for him prior to his record attempt in France.

“But it is not all about the bike,” added Holm. “This event is about the communities along the route that partner together to create festivals and events which add to the positive economic impact. And it is about the message of the Georgia Cancer Coalition, by creating a call to action, cancer can be defeated. These efforts are a positive impact to our workforce and increase productivity for a healthier Georgia and healthier economy.”

The Georgia Cancer Coalition, the beneficiary of the Dodge Tour de Georgia, and their partner the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, and the local organizing committees in each host city, will present the Healthy Georgia Expo in the finish line areas (Macon, Columbus, Rome, Dahlonega, Hiawassee/Young Harris and Alpharetta). This cancer awareness and educational experience expo is designed to be festive, fun and an interactive experience for all spectators. The Healthy Georgia Expo, presented by GE Healthcare, is the centerpiece of the initiative to spread the message of cancer prevention, early detection, awareness and treatment at the finish of each daily stage of the Dodge Tour de Georgia, “Georgia's Race to Defeat Cancer.”

With the USPS Pro Cycling team participating in the race and enhanced activities at host cities attracting huge crowds, the Dodge Tour de Georgia has experienced increased demand for corporate sponsorships and hospitality. New for 2004 is the Yellow Jersey Club hospitality area at six of the seven stages, which includes food, beverages, VIP viewing at finish lines and other amenities. The reservation deadline for the Yellow Jersey Club is Friday, April 9 and details are available in the Visitor Information section of the official Tour web site.