Annual CVB Meeting Includes a Love Letter to Athens
The annual Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting featured a lot of numbers, facts and figures, but what really stood out to the audience was guest speaker Lisa Love’s less quantifiable assessment of the city. Evoking the sentiments of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Love began to “count the ways” that Athens held a special place in her heart.
She began by listing the various businesses, attractions and destinations in Athens that had added to her enjoyment of the city, with Avid Bookshop, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Jittery Joe’s, Nuçi’s Space and the Georgia Museum of Art being but a few of the highlighted spots.
She said she loved “how you drive into downtown and you just feel different . . . that you don’t forget those who aren’t with you anymore . . . that when [Ciné] needed your help as a community, you were there for them . . . and that Athens is a place that appreciates, loves and nurtures art.”
Love, the director of the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, ensured that the audience knew that she had experienced Athens as a loyal, repeat visitor, and she highlighted how the hospitality of the Athens tourism community made her time in Athens stand out. “I’ll be back,” she emphasized, “and you all did that.”
Following this love letter to the Classic City, six individuals were recognized with Athens Hospitality Awards. The winners included Richard Mikulka, Joni Robinson, Paul Martin, Mike Waldrip and Mayor Nancy Denson. One award was extra notable for the Georgia Museum of Art, as our very own Michael Lachowski was honored as the Partner of the Year. Lachowski was praised as a Renaissance man of the community, who is present for meetings across the state without fail and has been a pillar of the Athens area for many years even before working at the museum.
The numbers presented in the meeting were impressive — over $300 million in tourist spending, nearly 3,000 tourism jobs in the county and an average of $850,000 spent by visitors each day in Athens. When recognizing the work of the CVB staff and tourism industry in the city, it is hard to summarize appropriately the hard work and achievements that attraction and hospitality workers have accomplished. But one thing that the room could agree on was Lisa Love’s parting sentiment: “Athens, I really do love you.”