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Columbus tourism director Tsismanakis stepping down


Ryan Poe



Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director and CEO James Tsismanakis announced Monday that he has accepted a position at the DeKalb County, Ga., CVB. 


Tsismanakis, who has been with the Columbus CVB since May 2005, will remain in office until Feb. 1, when he will move to DeKalb County. His family will remain in Columbus through the end of the school year. 


The CVB board will likely appoint a search committee to find Tsismanakis'' replacement at its regular meeting Monday at 4 p.m. 


The board will also discuss hiring a search firm, as it did in 2005, said Board President DeWitt Hicks. 


"We want to (decide a replacement) deliberately and carefully," Hicks said. "We don''t want to make a snap decision." 


If all goes well, the board will begin interviews in January, Hicks said. 


"We didn''t have much trouble last time," Hicks said of the process. "We had some good candidates." 


Columbus should attract a good batch of potential replacements, Hicks added. 


"We''ve got a lot of things going for us," he said. 


Although the board''s goal is to make the transition "seamless," Tsismanakis expressed doubt that a replacement could be found before he leaves office. 


"I think that''s probably a little quick," he added. 


If the board is unable to select someone to fill the position by Feb. 1, someone from the staff will probably be named interim director, Hicks said. 


The move is a step up for Tsismanakis, who will head a larger staff with a larger budget in the county that boasts attractions like Atlanta and Stone Mountain. 


The DeKalb County CVB''s budget is $1.7 million, which is about $400,000 higher than that of Columbus. 


Although he''s looking forward to the new position, Tsismanakis said leaving was bittersweet. 


"I''ve spent so much time and effort in five years building great projects and friendships," he said. "It''s been a phenomenal ride for almost six years." 


But, he added, it''s "hard not to want to go." 


"I''m very pleased I''m going, but very sad I''m leaving," Tsismanakis said. 


The Columbus CVB has streamlined its operations during Tsismanakis'' tenure, winning awards and national designations in the process. 


"He''s had some signal accomplishments since he''s been here," Hicks said. 


Columbus earned one of its most high-profile awards in 2008, when it was named one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 


"The awards," Tsismanakis said, "are really special. It really says something about Columbus." 


One of his biggest accomplishments was the Ghosts and Legends tour, which has grown significantly since its creation, Tsismanakis said. 


The city has also had three state blues markers established with Tsismanakis at the helm of the CVB. 


His success at the Columbus CVB gave Tsismanakis the momentum that caught the eye of DeKalb County CVB board members, he said. 


"What we''ve accomplished here is interesting to them over there," he said.




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