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How hosting tourism conference can be big economic boost to Gainesville, Hall
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Patrons enjoy the beach and lake at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands on Thursday, May 23, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

About 500 people in Georgia’s tourism industry will be coming to Hall County next year for a state conference, and some of the conference planners hope the event can further boost tourism in the county.

The Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference will be Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2020, at Lanier Islands in South Hall, and the annual conference is attended by tourism officials such as convention and visitors bureau managers, hotel and restaurant owners, and attraction managers, along with elected officials. This year’s event was in LaGrange.

While most of the conference will be held at Lanier Islands, attendees will also have the opportunity to see other parts of Hall. The Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau are already planning activities for the visitors, who will spend one night at Lanier Islands’ Margaritaville and another evening exploring Gainesville.

“We’re going to be showing off some of our pleasant surprises that we have in the community that will be news to our industry folks next year,” Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier CVB, said. “They’ll be very excited to see what we have going on.”

Regina Dyer
Regina Dyer

Regina Dyer, manager of the Gainesville CVB, said the conference can be a way for people in the tourism industry to see what the area has to offer and hopefully keep Gainesville and Hall in mind in the future.

“Once they see it, they take it back to their communities, and you just never know down the road, other conferences and opportunities that come from that,” Dyer said. “It’s super exciting to get new people and new visitors in town. It’s always a win for Gainesville and Hall County.”

Dyer said she hopes to partner with attractions and groups like the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, the Northeast Georgia History Center and the Arts Council to “give (attendees) a taste of all the things in Gainesville.”

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Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, shows off the bureau's new mobile visitors center in Gainesville, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

The area is also expecting growth that investors in the tourism industry hopefully decide to be a part of after seeing the area, Dickson said.

“We’ll also have this opportunity to talk about new developments that are happening — Gainesville’s new midtown development and the city of Flowery Branch’s downtown development, and city of Oakwood has some development, so there are opportunities for investment by tourism development people,” Dickson said. “They’ll be in our community for that week and hear about it, and some of them will see those places and spaces, and they could bring their businesses to Hall County.”

Lanier Islands last hosted the conference 10 years ago, and Missy Burgess, the public relations and marketing director for Lanier Islands, said many tourism officials in the state have not been able to see the resort’s new Margaritaville.

“Since it hasn’t been here in 10 years, just how much the property has grown and changed and all the things we’ve added, I think people are going to be blown away,” she said.

Dickson said conference planners will ask for volunteers to sign up closer to the event to help out and inform visitors about the community. 

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