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UNG honors tourism pioneer Bill T. Hardman

Hardman event
Bill Hardman (center) prepares to cut a cake in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Southeast Tourism Society.

The late Bill T. Hardman, Georgia's first tourism director and a key player in development of the Georgia World Congress Center, will be honored by the University of North Georgia (UNG) at "A Patriotic Celebration" featuring the Atlanta Pops Orchestra on July 3 at the Cottrell Ranch in Dahlonega.

"Bill was a visionary full of passion and enthusiasm," said Spurgeon Richardson, president emeritus of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Tourism was a lifelong love of Bill's and he has been publicly recognized as the father of tourism in the state of Georgia. He had a direct influence on my life as a friend, mentor and confidant."

Hardman, who died in 2013, was appointed the state's first tourism director in 1959; in 1973, he helped secure a $30 million appropriation from state lawmakers to construct the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. He was inducted into the Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2002.

"We are pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to Bill Hardman, whose leadership and vision for the tourism industry have made such a positive economic impact on this region and the state," said UNG President Bonita Jacobs. "For more than 20 years, UNG has hosted the STS Marketing College, a certification program for tourism professionals that Bill began, and we are proud to help support the tourism industry."

Hardman, who lived in Dahlonega, was inaugural president of Travel South USA, and served as chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America. He was architect of the Southeast Tourism Society (STS), including the STS Marketing College. Hardman was awarded the Travel Industry Association's highest honor, the Golden Horseshoe and the Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award, from the Georgia Governor's Conference on Tourism.

"We are honored to have been asked by Mr. Hardman's family to be part of this special event," said Dr. Donna Mayo, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG. "Funds raised from this event will allow us to explore opportunities in hospitality and tourism for the region."

Tickets for the event are $60 per person, which includes dinner. Doors open at 6 p.m. and patriotic attire is encouraged. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Bobbi Larson at 706-864-1623 or at Tickets may also be purchased from Sponsorship opportunities are available.

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