Lake Lanier is the biggest tourist attraction for Hall County and much of North Georgia, and it takes a team to manage visitors to it every year.
The Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau thanked its members, volunteers and supporters Tuesday at its annual meeting and Shining Star Awards at the Historic Train Depot in downtown Flowery Branch.
Stacey Dickson, president of the bureau, said it was a big year in tourism at the lake.
“I just want to say, whew,” Dickson said. “One more year under our belts. That didn’t happen by accident — it’s due to a lot of hard work by people in this room, our staff, board members, vendors, friends and partners.”
Dickson said the bureau helping bring three major events to the area in the last year that brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in visitor spending.
“One of those was Georgia Motorcoach Operators Association’s regional meeting,” she said. “In a nutshell, that was 350 motorcoach tour companies from Georgia, west to Texas.”
These companies learned about the opportunities for tourism in the area, particularly at Lake Lanier Islands.
The Regional Visitor Information Centers management conference was also held in Hall County and hosted by the bureau, while one of the biggest events was the Pan American Championships at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park.
“It was a phenomenal event,” Dickson said. “It was very successful and a learning experience for all of us.”
“That doesn’t include transportation and many other things they did, but that was basically just lodging and some food,” she said.
To thank those most involved with these events over the last year, Dickson and the bureau presented the 15th annual Shining Star Awards.
The Beyond the Call Award was given to Brenda McMillian with the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, “for being a true and loyal supporter who always cheers us on and encourages our team to strive for more.”
The development authority’s executive director Bill Donohue accepted the Chairman’s Award on behalf of the authority. The Out of the Box Award was given to Jay Kelly for “professional service with a heart of gold,” while the Blazing Star Award was given to Amanda McClure with the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and the Sky's the Limit Award was given to Karen Ching from Liberty Candy Company.
Finally, certificates of appreciation were presented to Sheri Millwood and the bureau’s Chairman Husein Khimani.
Khimani, who finished his two-year term as chairman, applauded Dickson and the work done by the bureau over the last year, particularly at the Pan Am Championships.
“Being from the private sector, you really don’t understand what the CVB does unless you get into it,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, tremendously, and have newfound respect for what the CVB does, and I really appreciate that.”