ATHENS, Ga. (October 20, 2016) - The Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) held its annual meeting Thursday, October 20, highlighted by the release of new economic impact figures for Athens-Clarke County and the presentation of the annual Athens Hospitality Awards.

Visitors to Athens-Clarke County spent $281.31 million in 2015, according to the 2015 Travel Economic Impact on Georgia State, Counties and Regions study prepared for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) by the United States Travel Association (USTA).Tourism in Athens-Clarke County generated 2,664 jobs with a $56.13 million payroll, as well as $11.27 million in state tax and $7.77 million in local tax collections. Total state and local taxes of $19.04 million were collected from visitor spending. Each household in Clarke County would need to be taxed an additional $452 per year to replace the state and local taxes generated by direct domestic spending alone. If total direct and indirect tourism impacts from domestic and international visitors are included, the figure jumps to $850.

The CVB also presented the annual Athens Hospitality Awards, which recognize the outstanding work of individuals whose efforts have made a positive impact on the Athens-Clarke County visitor experience. 

The Partner of the Year Award honors a CVB partner in the local hospitality industry who recognizes the value of working together to achieve greatness.  The person not only understands synergy, but also embodies the hospitality aspect of tourism to its fullest degree.  This position is a shining example to others about how to partner with the CVB.  The 2016 Partner of the Year Award was presented to Abby Hicks of Hotel Indigo Athens. Abby Hicks moved to Athens in 1996 and later graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Business and Marketing.  She has served her community for nearly two decades through a variety of roles at Trumps Catering, Consultants Unlimited and, over the most recent six years, with the Hotel Indigo as Director of Sales and Assistant General Manager. Outside of the office, she has continued her own professional development and service to the community through various organizations.  She is a proud alumna of LEAD Athens and the former president and treasurer of the Athens Wedding Professionals - she currently serves as hospitality chair.

The Hospitality HEROES (Hospitality Employees Recognition of Excellent Service) of the Year Award recognizes a front-line employee who has exceeded normal expectations to provide excellent service to visitors and residents. The 2016 Hospitality HEROES of the Year award was given to Allison Perfetti of the Classic Center. For the past three years, Allison has worked at The Classic Center – first as an event attendant - and currently serves as the Theatre Event Coordinator. Allison takes hospitality beyond simply welcoming guests of The Classic Center, whether that be a patron at an event, an event planner, a touring promoter, a hotelier or a member of our community, to curate a memorable Athens experience. Allison shines in creating of a warm and welcoming environment, which begins backstage for many performers with personalized touches such as lighting candles, fluffing pillows, putting out board games and sometimes even bringing in puppies. As one of her supervisors explained, “Allison exemplifies the ideals that an award like Hospitably HEROES represents. She is passionate about the arts, performance, events and hospitality to guests, which makes her so very effective at what she does every day.” Another colleague said that “Allison’s infectious personality is naturally inspiring to these groups, as well as her team members.  She truly prides herself on making Athens, Georgia, a city that everyone seeks to revisit.”

The Classic Host Award recognizes a local individual or individuals committed to bringing to the Athens area a new convention, meeting or event generating a significant economic impact.  The 2016 Classic Host Award was given to Mike Callinan of Athens Academy. Mike Callinan has served in a variety of roles at the school supporting teaching and learning through the integration of technology, including Robotics and Media Production Coordinator and Sparbots (MS/US Robotics) Faculty Sponsor. Callinan has successfully led Athens to be recognized as a hub for robotics activity in Northeast Georgia. Callinan is to be commended for his role in bringing the First Tech Challenge South Super-Regional Robotics Competition to Athens in March 2017. Bringing this conference normally held in San Antonino, TX, to Athens is expected to result in 1,950 room nights and $605,697.86 in direct spending per attendee.

The Louis Griffith Hospitality Leadership Award honors an outstanding individual in the local hospitality industry who displays foresight and exceptional leadership skills to impact the Athens-Clarke County hospitality industry and the community as a whole. The Louis Griffith Hospitality Leadership Award was presented to Cardee Kilpatrick, former Athens CVB Advisory Board Chair. Kilpatrick spent 12 years on the county commission, more than 15 years involved in her local civic community, 4 years on the city council and served as mayor in 1998. Because of her life accomplishments, Cardee exemplifies the values and virtues of the Louis Griffith Hospitality Leadership Award. Current CVB Advisory Board Chair Kathy Hoard explained, “Cardee’s work to support hospitality in our community began many years ago and continues not only through steadfast, tireless support in her public life but also generous private support in her personal one. I can think of no better candidate for this honor.” Kilpatrick is currently serving on the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Board of Managers and as the ACCG Interlocal Risk Management Agency Director.

"It is critical that we honor the hard work and level of excellence of employees in this leading local industry," remarked Chuck Jones, CVB director. "The exemplary performance of our award winners and the effort put forth by others are a main reason Athens is a destination of choice for many travelers.  A first-rate tourism product, coupled with an outstanding workforce, gives us a competitive edge.”


  • Photos of hospitality award winners are available.



Khyra Walker, PR Coordinator, 706-357-4543

Chuck Jones, Director, 706-357-4430

About the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau:

The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau is a proactive sales and marketing organization whose primary goal is to increase the economic impact of the hospitality and visitor industry by attracting individual visitors, group tours and meetings and conventions to Athens. Tourism WORKS for Athens, contributing $281.31 million in spending, 2,664 jobs and $19.04 million in local and state tax revenue in 2015.