Dawsonville was put on the world stage last week as nearly 30 consuls from around the world started off their three-day tour of the region in the city.
As part of a now 30-year initiative, Georgia's VIP International Tour chose the Georgia Mountain Region to showcase to 28 consuls with offices in Atlanta.
"This event is put together by the Georgia Department of Economic Development," said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County. "They do this every year, so the tours themselves have been going on for several years, but they pick different regions of the state each year."
According to Auvermann, the initiative puts the annually-selected region front and center for international tourism and trade.
"People don't realize how big the international representation is in the State of Georgia. Most countries have consulates outside of their embassies and Atlanta is one of the hubs for that in the South. These consuls are all from their represented countries," he said.
"You don't get these kinds of opportunities every day. There are nearly 30 countries that are visiting and it's an opportunity to show off what Dawson County has to offer for tourism and growth."
The consuls began their three-day trip in Dawson County, going into the mountains through Lumpkin County, traveling to Lake Lanier Islands and then ended their tour in the I-985 corridor.
"We're very pleased they picked our region this time. It's an opportunity for not just the state of Georgia to show off what they've got, but especially for our county to showcase the different things that we have," Auvermann said.
While in Dawson County, the dignitaries toured the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Atlanta Motorsports Park.
"This is fabulous. This is our 30th year of the VIP international tour and every year I keep thinking it can't get any better, but we are off to a high-octane start this year," said Bruce Allen, Honorary Consul of the Principality of Liechtenstein. "This is a wonderful area to come to. We've got about 65 countries represented in the Atlanta Consul Corps...so what this does is allows most of us that have offices in Atlanta to get out and see a different part of the state that we wouldn't normally get to."
However, Allen has most likely seen more of Georgia than his consul peers, as he is a Georgia native.
"I grew up in Georgia and every year I see stuff I didn't know we had. It's an opportunity for my colleagues to see the diversity that we have and also adds a personal touch," he said.
While it was only the first leg of their tour, Allen said that the consuls were already made to feel extremely welcome by Dawson County
"The Dawson community's effort to put this on and make us feel welcome takes a lot of time and planning and is very much appreciated," he said. "This has been so much fun."