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Mar. 4, 2020

The Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus honored Visit Savannah and its partners with the first-ever “Travelblazer” Award at its 2020 Winter Conference recently. The honor was conferred for the group’s work to bring a Savannah Landing Point exhibit to the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience museum in New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland. Savannah Landing Point opened at the Dunbrody museum near the end of 2019.

Joes Irish presentation  River Street  8

“Being recognized by our Georgia tourism industry peers is the highest possible compliment and further showcases the importance of developing partnerships and collaboration,” says Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah. “I know that our friends in New Ross take as much pride in this award as we do.”

Jay Markwalter, executive director of GACVB, speaks highly of Visit Savannah’s effort in driving the project to completion. “When we learned of Visit Savannah’s initiative to connect Savannah’s heritage back to its Irish roots, we wanted to be sure to recognize their efforts. The new Travelblazer Award was the ideal way for our tourism community to say, “job well-done.””

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is a walk-through living history museum demonstrating what the long and arduous journey across the Atlantic would have been like for those escaping the mid-nineteenth century potato famine in Ireland. The Savannah Landing Point addition immerses the visitor in what would have been waiting for the ship’s passengers as they disembarked in Savannah to begin their new lives. Data compiled by the Center for Irish Research & Teaching at Georgia Southern University indicates that as much as sixty percent of Savannah’s Irish community traces its ancestry to County Wexford.

A 2017 economic development trip to Ireland organized by the Savannah Economic Authority led to inspiration for the Savannah partners—including Visit Savannah, SEDA the Savannah Economic Development Authority, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, and Bonitz of Georgia—who saw an opportunity to increase Savannah’s presence in the area where many of its current residents have cultural roots. Between 2017 and 2019, the Savannah partners collaborated to match a government grant to the Dunbrody museum and create the Savannah Landing Point experience as a means of strengthening the bond between the two cities. Around 75,000 visitors tour the Dunbrody Famine Ship each year.

Media inquiries can be directed to Visit Savannah communications manager Summer Bozeman at or 912-644-6429.

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Visit Savannah serves as the official destination marketing organization for the Savannah area tourism industry and is committed to driving economic prosperity in the greater Savannah community through increased overall visitation and related spending while continuing to build upon Savannah’s image as a world-class destination.

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