Goodbye, Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Hello, Destination Augusta.
Local travel and tourism officials gathered outside the city’s Augusta & Co. tourist information center Thursday afternoon to unveil a new regional brand to coincide with the re-emergence of vacation travel from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Especially after this extremely challenging year we had in 2020, we are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we take steps confidently as an industry toward recovery,” said Bennish Brown, president and CEO of the newly-christened Destination Augusta.
“‘Convention and visitors bureau,’ outside our industry, sounds a little bureaucratic,” Brown said. “We feel Destination Augusta truly reflects our focus on marketing for visitors and bringing in new business.”
As COVID initially surged last year, the organization shifted to a mode of “react, rethink, recover” to help themselves and the community weather the pandemic, said Brandon Haddock, chairman of Destination Augusta’s board of directors.
“We very quickly pivoted our approach from a priority of marketing our destination to prospective visitors to a more inward sharing of meaningful information from the people who live here in Augusta and the region around us so that they knew the benefits, the attractions, that they could take advantage of even during the time of pandemic, to keep themselves occupied and take their minds off what we were all living through,” Haddock said. “When people stopped traveling to our hotels it was important that we became a valuable, relevant resource of local information to support our businesses.”
In the background of that new focus, he said, the organization began talking about rebranding into a group that exuded boldness and excitement. More than three dozen ideas were pitched.
“We also wanted a name that recognized our responsibility to enhance our city as a destination in collaboration with its residents, its businesses and the organizations that live and work here,” Haddock said. “Among all the possibilities we considered, we chose the one that required the least amount of explanation.”
The new name is accompanied by a design palette, created by Augusta marketing agency Wier/Stewart, to present a united theme to Destination Augusta’s promotional materials.
The new logo – a stylized map of Georgia with the initials AUG and a star marking Augusta’s location – also will be used by the Augusta Sports Council, which promotes area sporting events as drivers of community vibrance.
The council is keeping its name but changing its promotional look with its own color palette, also designed by Wier/Stewart.
The rebranding event coincides with the 30th anniversary off the sports council’s founding, said its CEO, Brian Graham.
“For us, this event today signifies the beginning of an exciting new era as we emerge from the many challenges of a year that we’d probably all love to forget, and resume our mission with a re-energized sense of purpose,” he said.
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said a few brief words and read a city proclamation recognizing this week as National Travel and Tourism Week, declared by the U.S. Travel Association.
“What we hope to see in the year 2021 all across the city – quite frankly all across the region – is to welcome the world back to this place we call Augusta, Georgia,” he said.