Atlanta, March 18, 2013—More than two dozen consular and trade officials from 23 countries will visit business and tourism centers in southwestern Georgia March 20-22 during Georgia’s 28th annual International VIP Tour. The tour, conducted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), will showcase tourism destinations, businesses and economic development partnerships in the region, and provide Georgia’s diplomatic corps opportunities to meet local Georgians in Albany, Americus, Plains, Adel, Lakeland, Thomasville and Tifton.
The International VIP Tour, which combines travel destinations with economic development projects and business communities, is the only event in the state that enables the bulk of Georgia’s diplomatic corps to meet local Georgians in their own communities. The event benefits both the participants and the host regions: it enhances the consular corps’ understanding of Georgia’s business and tourism assets, and offers communities the opportunity to establish international business relationships.
“The VIP Tour exposes Georgia’s influential consular corps to regions outside Metro Atlanta that may have potential interest for international investors and visitors,” said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. “It allows the consuls the opportunity to interact with Georgia citizens, and highlights not only the diversity of Georgia’s business and cultural environments, but also the strength of the state’s partnerships with local leaders, which are so important to the economic development process.”
The tour is a unique, hybrid program that is mutually beneficial for both participants and host regions. Each year tour participants visit a part of the state they might not otherwise experience, in order to enhance their understanding of Georgia’s amenities and culture and offer communities the opportunity to establish international business representatives.
This year’s participants will visit sites highlighting Southwest Georgia’s diversity of agriculture, aerospace, manufacturing, tourism, entertainment and agricultural assets. The tour will commence in Americus, where the group will tour Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and Discovery Center. From there, the group will go to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and stop in Albany overnight, enjoying dinner at the Flint Riverquarium hosted by the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission and Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Thursday’s itinerary begins with a tour of Thrush Aircraft’s manufacturing facility in Albany and proceeds to Thomasville and Southwest Georgia Technical College. The consuls will lunch with Thomasville-Thomas County’s Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, and then depart to Adel for a visit to the South Georgia Motorsports Park, where participants will get a first-hand look at the 350-acre racing facility. Dinner hosted by the Adel-Cook County Tourism Authority will be held at Horse Creek Winery before the group overnights in Adel. Final stops of the tour include breakfast with the Georgia Olive Farm and Gayla’s Grits, as well as the Lakeland-Lanier County Chamber of Commerce. The final stop of the tour is the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness at the University of Georgia-Tifton campus.
“Each year, the VIP Tour offers a unique, in-depth and personal opportunity to the members of Georgia’s Consular Corps to discover and experience a different part of Georgia,” said Claudio Leoncavallo, Consul General of Switzerland. “Learning about what the different regions of the state have to offer in terms of economic development, academia, tourism, culinary and cultural traditions helps us do a better job in representing our own countries and in creating opportunities beneficial for all parties. We are grateful and honored to be guests of the state of Georgia and the many communities that are part of it.”
The 2013 VIP Tour will include representatives of entities in Albania, the Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Flanders (Belgium), Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Nigeria, Québec, the Rhône-Alpes (France), Sweden and Switzerland.
The Consular Corps of Georgia consists of consuls general, consuls, honorary consuls and trade commissioners representing more than 70 countries. Career officials are members of their country’s foreign services while honorary officials are local residents appointed by foreign governments to perform consular duties. Most consulates offer assistance to nationals from their respective countries in the areas of tourist visas, business visa, renewal of passports, legalization of documents, and other official matters.
Currently, more than 60 countries operate almost 3,500 internationally-owned facilities in Georgia, employing more than 170,000 Georgians. With a record $35.8 billion in exports in 2012, Georgia is the 12th largest exporting state in the nation.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) plans, manages and mobilizes state resources to attract new business investment to Georgia, drive the expansion of existing industry and small business, locate new markets for Georgia products, inspire tourists to visit Georgia, and promote the state as a top destination for arts events and film, music and digital entertainment projects. Visit www.georgia.org
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