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Interview with Bill Hardman, February 4, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:25 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is another in series of oral histories here at the University of Georgia, sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Bill Hardman.

00:00:53 - Early life / Visit to New York City

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Partial Transcript: Colbert, Georgia--
Ten miles from Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman describes his youth, which involved working as a paperboy to help support the family, and a trip he won to New York City for selling the most subscriptions of the Atlanta Constitution.

00:03:08 - Entry into tourist industry

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Partial Transcript: When did you first get interested in tourism?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman attributes his appointment to Georgia's new tourist commission to his friend Abit Massey and describes the early days of the commission.

Keywords: Abit Massey; Advertising budget; Ernest Vandiver; Florida; Georgia Jaycees; Georgia state capitol; Jaycees National Convention; Legislature; New Perry Hotel; Pennsylvania; Perry, Georgia; Promotional budget; Tourist division; Valdosta, Georgia; Warner Robbins, Georgia; Welcome centers; Welcome stations

00:06:07 - Overcoming Georgia's national reputation

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Partial Transcript: Well at the time of our inauguration of a tourist division, how was Georgia perceived around the country?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman details some of the campaigns the tourist commission launched to change outsiders' views of Georgia.

00:10:48 - Growth of Georgia's tourist industry

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Partial Transcript: Well, if you will, Bill, will you tell us, or give us a shotgun view, of your goals the moment you arrived as our new tourist commissioner?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman recalls growing Georgia's tourist industry, from setting up the first welcome stations to representing Georgia in travel shows.

Keywords: "See Georgia First"; Arch Gary; Better Homes & Gardens; Budget; Callaway Gardens; Emergency funds; Florida; Forbes Banks; Fran Tarkenton; Georgia Association of Broadcasters; Georgia Press Association; Holiday magazine; Marketing; Minnesota Vikings; Reputation; Rock City; Savannah Kiwanis Club; Southern Living; Sylvania, Georgia; Talmadge Memorial Bridge; Tourist attractions; Travel shows

00:16:16 - Collaborative efforts to grow tourism

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Partial Transcript: How long did it take us to slow down those tourists, keep 'em in Georgia for a while before they went to Florida?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman describes the cooperation between cities and entities in Georgia and beyond in building the state's tourist industry.

Keywords: "Stay and See Georgia"; Atlanta airport; Beautification; Billboards; Brochures; Charles Phalen; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Coca-Cola; Columbus, Georgia; Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Georgia Peanut Council; Georgia history; Great Okefenokee Swamp; I-75; I-85; Lavonia, Georgia; Mozelle Christian; NBC radio; Publicity; RC Cola; Ringgold, Georgia; Slogan; The New York Times; Travel writers

00:21:52 - Participation in presidential inaugurations

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Partial Transcript: Let's turn now to some of your other early activities.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman tells several anecdotes of his experiences at various inaugurations, including being stuck in an elevator with a dozen beauty queens.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Carolyn Carter; Congressmen; Democrat; Ladybird Johnson; Lester Maddox; Lyndon B. Johnson; Marietta, Georgia; Mayflower Ball; Orlando, Florida; Paul Coverdell; Republican; Richard Nixon; State salary

00:25:50 - Early collaborators on tourist projects

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Partial Transcript: You recalled your cooperation from our governors.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman recalls working with Georgia's governors and a few dedicated North Georgians to expand tourism in the state.

00:30:20 - Georgia's tourist attractions / World Congress Center

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Partial Transcript: Talking about, uh, popular tourist attractions: what would you consider our bigger attractions in the state, as far as tourism is concerned?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman discusses some of the main tourist draws in Georgia and how they've changed from the 1960s until today, and describes the process of getting approval and funding to build the World Congress Center.

Keywords: Allocation; Amusement park; Columbus, Georgia; Commissioner of Agriculture; Conventions; Dalhonega Mine Train; Event center; Georgia Aquarium; Georgia exhibits; Georgia legislature; Hotels; Hyatt Regency; Lobbying; Michael Jenkins; Six Flags Over Georgia; Six Flags Over Texas; Stone Mountain, Georgia; Tommy Irvin; World of Coca-Cola

00:34:13 - Advertising to potential tourists today

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Partial Transcript: Bill, how's the best way to reach potential tourists today?

Segment Synopsis: Hardman describes the various mediums of reaching today's tourists, suggesting that the Web is an increasingly important tool but doesn't replace traditional venues such as print advertisements and articles.

Keywords: Advertising; Billy Stuckett; Brochures; Hardman & Stuckett Travel Investments; Magazines; Print advertisements; Television advertisements; The World Wide Web; The internet; Travel agency; Travel articles; Travel journalism; Websites

00:36:02 - Sports teams in Atlanta

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Bill, there's a current debate over whether or not the state should help pay for the construction of a new stadium in Atlanta for football.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman speaks about the benefit of pro sports teams for Atlanta's tourist economy but expresses uncertainty about using tax dollars to subsidize the construction of a new football stadium.

Keywords: Atlanta Braves; Atlanta Falcons; Convention & Visitors Bureau; Financing; Georgia Dome; Georgia Hotel Association; Hotel-Motel tax; NFL; National Football League; Professional sports; Ray Hill; Turner Field

00:39:02 - Promotional activities in Washington D.C. and international cities

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Partial Transcript: You were one of the founders of the Southeast Tourism Society.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman describes putting on hoedowns for Congress members in Washington, D.C. and mentions some of the international marketing efforts of the Southeast Tourism Society.

Keywords: Ambassador; Barbeque; Berlin, Germany; Bill Nelson; Bob Hope; Brunswick stew; CBS; Callaway Gardens; Canada; Canadian Express; Canadian National Exposition; Charter member; Chattanooga Tent Company; Copenhagen, Denmark; Delta Airlines; Eastern Airlines; Ed Stone; Federal government; Florida oysters; Hank Aaron; Hoedown; International marketing; John Lovegrove; London, England; Marketing; Mississippi catfish; New Orleans, Louisiana; Niagara Falls; Opryland USA; Private sector; Quartet; Reception; Robert Goulet; Rome, Italy; Ronnie Kole; Southern Living; Southern Travelers Directors Council; Southern cooking; State travel directors; Strom Thurmond; Tom Murphy; U.S. Department of Commerce; UNG; University of North Georgia; Zell Miller

00:47:46 - Participation in the Tournament of Roses

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Partial Transcript: When we have the floats in the Tournament of Roses parade, they would meet us at the gate...

Segment Synopsis: Hardman speaks about receiving annual funding from the State of Georgia to buy a float in the Rose Bowl.

Keywords: Float builders; Frank Coggin; Gone With the Wind; Hapevilel High School; Hapeville, Georgia; Heron Preston; Lester Maddox; Marching band; Max Cleland; Parade float; Rose Bowl Parade; Sweepstakes; Tournament of Roses Parade; West coast

00:53:26 - Highlights of career and the tourist industry

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Partial Transcript: Well, Bill, I'd like to ask you, if you will, to sum up, in your opinion, the history of Georgia tourism over the past fifty years.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman suggests that Georgia's hospitality will encourage further visitors to the state and mentions some of the highlights of Georgia's tourist industry, many of which he hand a hand in developing.

Keywords: Continuing education; Cotton picking; Destination; Disney; Downtown Atlanta; Hospitality; Hugh Masters; Merchant Marines; Northerners; Pass-through state; Service industry; The Peach Drop; Underground Atlanta; Walking tour

00:58:19 - African-American tourism / Marketing cooperation

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Partial Transcript: Describe for us, Bill, if you will, Georgia's tourist industry during racial segregation.

Segment Synopsis: Hardman touches on how Georgia has changed for African-American tourists and residents since desegregation and again mentions the cooperation among various state agencies in growing Georgia's tourist industry.

Keywords: African-Americans; Black migration; Broadcast media; Civil rights; Employment; Employment opportunities; Ernest Vandiver; Family history; Georgia Motor Trucking Association; Georgia State Patrol; Print media; Publicity; Restrooms; Sam Nunn; Tractor trailers