Industry awards presented at annual Governor’s Tourism Conference

September 13, 2013

Gov. Nathan Deal recognized several of the state’s top tourism professionals with awards at the 2013 Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference. The conference was hosted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Sept. 10-12. More than 500 tourism industry professionals from Georgia’s convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, hotels and other entities attended the annual conference.

“For the first time ever, the total economic impact of tourism in Georgia has jumped above $51 billion,” Deal said. “Tourism grows our economy not only by providing revenue and jobs, but also by creating an environment in which businessmen and women want to live and raise their families.”

2013 award recipients, nominated by the Georgia tourism industry, include:

• The Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized with the Paul Broun Award for Marketing Initiatives, given in memory of the late state Sen. Paul Broun, Sr., of Athens. It is awarded to the entity that demonstrates an effective and unique marketing initiative.  

• Laurie Rowe, owner of Laurie Rowe Communications, received the Larry Allen Tourism Leadership Award, given in memory of the late Larry Allen, general manager of Stone Mountain Park. Ms. Rowe’s public relations firm has proactively championed Georgia destinations. 

• The DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau received the Al Burris Award for Creative Expression, named for former state Rep. Al Burris of Marietta. The DeKalb CVB was recognized for its partnership with We Are DeKalb Magazine.  

• Bruce Green, Georgia Tourism’s Director of Tourism Product Development, received the Tom Kilgore Lifetime Achievement Award for exemplifying outstanding lifetime commitment to tourism. 

The Tourism Champion Awards were created in 2003 to acknowledge the support and guidance given to the state’s tourism industry by individuals and organizations who have taken leadership roles in developing tourism opportunities in communities across the state. 2013 Tourism Champion award recipients include:

• Rep. Jason Shaw, Georgia House District 176, was awarded the Tourism Champion in Government Award for showing extraordinary support by an elected official. Rep. Shaw sponsored the legislation to officially designate Highway 34 the “Georgia Grown Trail.” He is also a member of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee.

• Caroline Figiel and Danny Jones, owners of Creative Digital, were the recipients of this year’s Tourism Champion Product Development Award. They have traveled more than 4,000 miles across Georgia to help communities develop quality tourism assets and marketing tools.

• Populace, Inc., received the Tourism Champion Private Sector Award. Based in Georgia, Populace has a passion for engaging visitors through destination mobile apps and social media. 

• The Tourism Champion Partnership Award was given to the Athens Historic House Museum Association. The organization was recognized for its annual Holiday Spirits Museum Theater Tour, which brings together heritage tourism, museum interpretation, architectural and decorative arts education, and theater. 

In addition, the Paul Nelson Award for Outdoor Recreation and Preservation was established this year in honor of Paul Nelson, former Assistant Director of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Nelson has worked tirelessly to preserve Georgia’s natural resources. This award, to be implemented in the coming year, will recognize an individual or entity that promotes sustainable outdoor recreation activities and/or conservation efforts which enhance Georgia’s outdoor spaces. 

 The Governor’s Tourism Conference is intended to educate members of the tourism industry about travel- and tourism-related issues on a national and statewide level, focusing on emerging trends as well as ways to reinforce current tourism efforts and future initiatives.

The 2014 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will take place Sept. 3-5 in Augusta.