STS Exec Bill Hardman Honored During Largest Congressional Summit

ATLANTA, Ga. – Southeast Tourism Society’s Congressional Travel and Tourism Summit in Washington, D.C., July 17-19 was the largest in the 18-year history of the event.

All 12 STS member states were represented. More than 80 travel and tourism industry professionals met with members of Congress to discuss an array of issues important to tourism.

Topics included supporting the Explore America Act, pushing the Restore Our Parks Act to address the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog and securing long-term funding for Brand U.S.A., the nation's destination marketing organization.

Complementing policy education programs for attendees, and visits to congressional offices across Capitol Hill, was a celebratory dinner for Bill Hardman, who is retiring after 21 years as STS president and CEO and 50 years in the tourism industry.

More than 100 people, some from as far away as California and Canada, attended the Hardman retirement event on July 18. Tim Todd, interim chair of STS, hosted the event, and Bud Flora, a past chair, was the emcee. Guest speakers were U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, Brand U.S.A. President and CEO Chris Thompson and Helen Hardman, another past chair of STS.

A special video tribute included personal messages from all STS states, as well as ones from former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), who was co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a longtime tourism advocate.

During the event, Todd announced that Hardman will maintain ties to STS as president emeritus.

Prior to his tenure at STS, Hardman’s career included being president and CEO of Atlanta’s DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1987-1997, director of promotions for Atlanta's Cumberland Mall, director of promotions and public relations for the Omni International Complex (now the CNN Center in Atlanta), director of membership for the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association and director of advertising and membership for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He is on the industry advisory board of directors for the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at Georgia State University and has served on the boards of Destinations International and the United States Travel Association. He chaired the Georgia Olympic Marketing Task Force for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

He was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism, and he advised the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the National Parks Service for two years as a member of the National Park System Advisory Board.

His industry honors include twice being named Georgia's Travel Industry Leader of the Year, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Tourism from Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and receiving the Tourism Icon Award from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For photos from last week's events, please visit here.

About Southeast Tourism Society (STS)

Founded in 1983, Southeast Tourism Society ( ) promotes and develops tourism in its 12 member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Its headquarters are in Atlanta. Membership includes state travel offices, convention and visitors bureaus, lodging properties, attractions, travel media and other travel-related organizations.


Wendy Thomas

Robin North