GACVB’s TravelBlazers

FEBRUARY 2023 - Georgia CVB's TravelBlazers Awards Ceremony

Summer is here! It’s time to explore Georgia’s communities and celebrate their development through Georgia Trend’s coverage of our 2023 TravelBlazers.

The TravelBlazers program, launched in 2020 by the Georgia Convention & Visitors Bureau, is designed to recognize community destination development projects and the collaboration and creative product development that demonstrate “tourism at the economic development table.”

The Georgia Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted their annual conference in Albany. The retroactive 2022 TravelBlazers, recognized in the July 2022 issue of Georgia Trend, as well the 2023 TravelBlazers gathered together in Albany to celebrate the achievements of the past few years. 

Group photo of Conference Attendees At Ray Charles Plaza

Mid week of the 2023 GACVB Annual Conference, visitors bureaus and industry partners from across the state gathered around the Ray Charles Memorial at Ray Charles Plaza in downtown Albany on the Flint River.

Recognized at the 2023 GACVB Annual Conference:

2023 TravelBlazers

  • The Reeves House Visual Arts Center – Woodstock Arts
  • The Market at Visit Statesboro – Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Gainesville Kayak Vending Machine – Gnarly Marsh / Gainesville Parks & Recreation
  • Dream Empire: An Atlanta Dream + Arches Brewing Collaboration – ATL Airport District
  • Macon’s Christmas Lights Extravaganza – NewTown Macon

2022 TravelBlazers

  • The Creeks Recreational Trail System – Butts County Chamber of Commerce / City of Jackson & Dauset Trail Nature Center
  • Fenders Alley – City of Cornelia / Reeder Family
  • JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside – Visit Savannah
  • Taste of Thomasville Food Tours – Thomasville Visitors Center
  • William Hubbard Complex and Historic Hubbard Women’s Dormitory (Hubbard Museum & Cultural Center) City of Forsyth CVB

Receiving the 2022 TravelBlazer on behalf of the Savannah – Ashley Woitena, Senior Vice President of VisitColumbusGA serving as 2022-2023 GACVB President; Visit Savannah‘s Angela Westerfield, Vice President, Marketing & Communications; Jeff Hewitt, Executive Vice President. This 2022 TravelBlazer award recognizes the Savannah partners involved in the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside project.

Visit Savannah's TravelBlazers honorees and Ben Young

VisitSavannah – (L to R) Ashley Woitena, Angela Westerfield, Jeff Hewitt, Ben Young

Thomasville Food Tours represented by Thomasville Food Tours founder Debra Smith, Owner/Guide and Bonnie Hayes, Director of Tourism Development for the City of Thomasville.

Thomasville TravelBlazers honorees and Ben Young

Thomasville – (L to R) Ashley Woitena, Debra Smith, Bonnie Hayes, Ben Young

Representing Macon for the 2023 TravelBlazer award – Macon’s Christmas Lights Extravaganza founder, entrepreneur, downtown developer and coffee shop owner Bryan Nichols, who started the lights display; partners Emily Hopkins, NewTown Macon‘s Director of Place and Main Street Macon Manager; and Gary Wheat President & CEO of the Visit Macon Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Macon Georgia TravelBlazers honorees and Ben Young

Macon – (L to R) Ashley Woitena, Bryan Nichols, Emily Hopkins, Gary Wheat, Ben Young

Ashley Woitena; Regina Ingebrigtsen, CVB Sales & Marketing Manager; and Robyn Lynch, Tourism Director received the award on behalf of the Gainesville Kayak Vending Machine project by Gnarly Marsh / Gainesville Parks & Recreation.

Gainesville CVB TravelBlazers honorees and Ben Young

Gainesville CVB. – (L to R) Ashley Woitena, Robyn Lynch, Regina Ingebrigtsen, Ben Young

Bridget Daniel, Tourism Director of the Butts County Chamber of Commerce / Explore Butts County received the TravelBlazers Award for the The Creeks Recreational Trail System on behalf of the partners Butts County Chamber of Commerce / City of Jackson & Dauset Trail Nature Center. This project was featured in the 2022 round of the TravelBlazers recognition.

Butts County Chamber TravelBlazers honorees and Ben Young

Butts County Chamber – (L to R) Ashley Woitena, Bridget Daniel, Ben Young


Feature Cover to TravelBlazers story in Georgia Trend July 2023

Many thanks to Jay Markwalter, Executive Director of the GACVB and his team for the wonderful event.

STS Congressional Summit on Travel & Tourism Southeast Tourism Society, July 10-13, 2023, Washington, D.C.
Annual Convention, Destinations International, July 18-20, Dallas, TX
ESTO, U. S. Travel Association, August 19-22, 2023, Savannah, GA
Georgia Downtown Conference, Georgia Downtown Association, August 21-24, 2023, Canton, GA
Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference, Explore Georgia / GDEcD, September 11-13, 2023, Jekyll Island, GA
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