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Officials to honor tourism ambassadors

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

From the gas station attendant, who goes an extra mile to provide directions, to the waitress, who offers friendly conversation to the traveling public, they, and others, could soon be honored by the county's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Some deserving service employees at various local businesses, who have gone out of their way to make visitors feel welcome in the county, will be recognized May 11, during the annual Golden Service Awards. The employees will be honored as part of a celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week, May 8-16, during a special ceremony at the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro.

The deadline for Golden Service Award nominations is this Friday, according to Beth Bailey, vice president of sales and promotions for the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). She said the event encourages tourism by recognizing individuals who make an effort to help visitors and deliver good customer service.

"What we want to do is really highlight the people, who are meeting the traveling public, whether they are at a gas station, a hotel, or the airport ... someone who sees a visitor and wants to help them extend their stay, wants to help them find their way around," Bailey said. "It can be from any walk of life. Visitors don't just go to hotels and attractions. They go to eat, they go to the movies, they buy gas.

"There are lots of different things people can do just be to hospitable," Bailey said. "We want to show off our southern hospitality."

Last year was the first for the Golden Service Awards, Bailey said, and the winners were: Morrow Tourist Center Event Coordinator Lauren Singleton, Comfort Suites Stockbridge employee, LaTanya Echols, and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., docent and historian, Ted Key.

Golden Service Award winners will be selected from nominations submitted by the community, according to Bailey. The CVB will also grant one Friends of Tourism Award to an individual whose actions have aided the bureau and the cause of tourism over the past year, she said.

Last year's Friends of Tourism Award winner was Jim McSweeney, regional administrator of the National Archives at Atlanta, Bailey said.

Patrick Duncan, president and CEO of the Clayton County CVB, said that encouraging individuals to be more hospitable will ultimately have a positive economic impact on the area. "Tourism helps bring in millions of dollars in revenue to our county, and is the second-largest industry in the state of Georgia," Duncan said, in a written statement.

"It is important to recognize those individuals out on the front lines, who are giving our visitors a memorable experience and ensuring that they will visit us again."

Nomination forms can be obtained at the Road to Tara Museum, located at 104 North Main St., or by e-mailing Beth Bailey, at beth@visitscarlett.com.

Winners will be notified by phone on Wednesday, May 5, according to Bailey. For more information, call (678) 610-4242.