Dec 12

Explore Gwinnett celebrates big tourism impact at holiday celebration in Duluth

By: Curt Yeomans

Published: Saturday, December 12, 2015

Explore Gwinnett officials are touting 2015 as “Gwinnett’s best year ever” for tourism.

The tourism group celebrated the impact visitors have on the county’s economy during the recent Explore Gwinnett Annual Tourism Awards and Holiday Luncheon in Duluth. The event drew more than 200 people to the Infinite Energy Center to recognize businesses, owners, officials and employees who work to make sure visitors enjoy their visit to the county.

“Our Tourism Awards luncheon is a celebration of the impact of our $1 billion industry, as well as recognizing those who have gone above and beyond in helping to bring in meetings, events and visitors,” Explore Gwinnett Executive Director Lisa Anders said in a statement.

One of the highlights of the luncheon each year is the announcement of the county’s tourism awards. They include the Friends of Tourism, Sports Partners of the Year, Mitsubishi Electric Classic Partner of the Year and Hospitality Industry Professional of the Year honors.

Explore Gwinnett officials said Hospitality Industry Professional of the Year is considered the most prestigious of the awards because Gwinnett’s hospitality industry professionals nominate their colleagues for the title.

This year’s winners included:

Friends of Tourism — Partnership Gwinnett’s Nick Masino, Spectrum Entertainment’s John Johnson, Hilton Atlanta Northeast’s Bruce Johnson, Hampton Inn Sugarloaf’s Lidija Ahmetovic, Payne-Corley House’s Hope Follmer, Jerry The Trolley Guy’s Jerry Moore, Explore Gwinnett Volunteer Ambassador Stewart Woodard and Infinite Energy Center’s Suzanne Corbin.

Sports Partners of the Year — Proof of the Pudding’s Adam Noyes

Mitsubishi Electric Classic Partner of the Year — State Bank and Trust Company’s Gary Dowell and Michael T. Hopton

Hospitality Industry Professional of the Year — Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta Sales Manager Stephan Haladej, Sr.

Attendees also participated in Explore Gwinnett’s eighth annual hospitality charity drive, which collected more than 200 toys for children who are in the custody of the Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services. The toys will be given to children for Christmas.