The Classic Center Authority congratulates Chuck Jones, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Outreach of The Classic Center and former director of the Athens (GA) Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), on his retirement, effective October 16.

Jones became director of the Athens CVB, the city’s official destination marketing organization, when it became a department of The Classic Center Authority in 1996 after having been a part of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce since 1976, and served as director for over 23 years.

“We are all so fortunate to have had one of the best hospitality tourism marketing professionals at the helm for so long,” said Paul Cramer, President and CEO of The Classic Center Authority.  “Chuck was respected by elected officials, association executives and tourism professionals throughout the state as one of the best in the business.  He has made an indelible mark on the hospitality industry in Athens and I will forever be grateful for his skill, mentorship to our staff, and his guidance and friendship.”

Jones is known for his mentorship of colleagues and for leading a close-knit and award-winning destination management team. During his leadership, the Athens CVB incubated the Athens Wedding Professionals group, developed the Hospitality HEROES program to recognize the community’s front-line workers, launched the annual Athens hospitality leadership awards, helped spearhead the development of the “Athens, GA, Life Unleashed” brand, was a part of a committee appointed by the mayor to designate downtown Athens as a local historic district, was on the original board of directors for the Athens Area Arts Council and oversaw the creation of the Athens Sports Council. Overnight group business booked by the CVB and The Classic Center increased from 15,000 consumed or actualized room nights in the late ‘90s to nearly 90,000 (pre-COVID-19), which generated demand for the opening of 13 new hotels that in turn generated thousands of new jobs for the hotels as well as other local hospitality businesses.

Originally from Alabama, Jones graduated from Auburn University with a BA degree. Jones possesses close to 40 years of experience in the hospitality/tourism industry. Jones began his tourism career at the Alabama Tourism Department in 1982 and then spent time in the hotel industry in Alabama. Before coming to Athens, Jones was director of sales at the Jekyll Island CVB for 10 years.

Jones has recently served on the boards of the Georgia Tourism Foundation (appointed by the governor), Athens Area Chamber of Commerce (ex officio) and the Athens Community Career Academy. He was involved with many other local organizations in a number of capacities over the years, including the Athens Area Hospitality Resource Panel; Clarke County Board of Education CTAE program; culinary arts program at the Athens Community Career Academy; the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program at Athens Technical College; Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival; and the University of Georgia Hospitality and Food Industry Management Program.

Jones is the recipient of the 2005 Larry Allen Award for Tourism Excellence, which was presented at the Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference. He is a past president of the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (2004 and 2005) and Georgia Travel Association (2004) and served on the board of the Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association.  Jones is also a past chair of the Tourism Development Alliance of Georgia (2008) and Tourism Development Committee of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) 5, Georgia Departments of Community Affairs and Economic Development (2005-07).

“It has been a real privilege and honor to lead the Athens CVB for these many years and been a part of a dynamic team that worked tirelessly to make our city a premier leisure travel destination as well as top meeting site,” said Jones. “I am very appreciative to The Classic Center Authority, especially its President and CEO Paul Cramer, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, the hotel community, and the local hospitality/tourism industry overall for their support and for trusting me to hold this critical position for all these years, including during such difficult and challenging times as 09/11, the Great Recession, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Jones’s successor at the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau, Katie Williams, began as Director in March 2020; Williams currently serves as the President of the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus.

 “Chuck’s leadership and vision have had a profound impact on the Athens community and the state of Georgia,” said Williams.  “A true champion of tourism, we all appreciate Chuck’s many years of service and congratulate him on his retirement.”