ATLANTA – (April 10, 2024) – Cookie Smoak, president of the ATL Airport District Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), today announced that she will retire on September 30, 2024.  Smoak leaves behind a legacy of excellence after spending 11 remarkable years leading the destination marketing organization for the cities of College Park, Hapeville, and Union City, Ga. and nearly 50 years driving growth and innovation within the hospitality and tourism industries.


CSmoak Headshot 2017

"It is with mixed emotions that I announce I will retire as president of the ATL Airport District (CVB). I assure you that this decision was a well-thought-out and difficult one to make. The last 10 and a half years with this organization and team have been the most rewarding in my 46-year career, and I consider it my greatest professional accomplishment," said Smoak in a message to her team. "Together, we have created a collaborative, high-performing and successful team with a culture based on trust and respect for each other. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this team!"


During her tenure as president of the ATL Airport District, Smoak successfully conceived and grew the CVB from a start-up representing one city to a dynamic, thriving network driving sales and marketing for three unique Atlanta-area communities. While managing a multi-million-dollar budget, her efforts strategically positioned the District as a preferred destination for leisure tourism, as well as – through a joint effort with the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) – conventions and meetings. Since its inception, Smoak’s leadership propelled the CVB to secure more than 4,400 leads, garnering more than 340,000 room nights and generating an economic impact of nearly $425 million. Navigating unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Smoak led her team of outstanding sales and marketing professionals to record-breaking success by 2023. Having surpassed pre-COVID levels, the organization contributed an impressive economic impact of nearly $85 million to the state and confirmed more than 72,000 room nights throughout the District.


Smoak’s efforts over the years have empowered her team to think outside the box, developing numerous innovative initiatives that have helped put the District on the map as one of Georgia’s top spots for both leisure and business travelers. Under her leadership, the ATL Airport District launched an annual cycling series, Spin the District, which is now recognized as the second-largest cycling event in Georgia. The ATL Airport District introduced a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) social media initiative to increase partnerships, reputation and preference, launching a webpage that allows meeting planners to easily explore the District's diverse partners. Additionally, the District implemented the NAVigator program under Smoak’s guidance, a volunteer initiative for residents to extend their Southern hospitality to out-of-town guests with volunteers stationed at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, area hotels and GICC. These initiatives represent just a fraction of the ATL Airport District's successful efforts to raise awareness of the destination with Smoak at the helm.


Throughout the years, Smoak has been honored as a force in the tourism industry. Most recently, she was awarded the GACVB's Larry Allen Tourism Leadership Award, which was bestowed upon her through the nomination of her peers. She also made history as the first woman in the tourism industry to be selected as one of Atlanta Magazine’s Women Making a Mark Award. And, in 2023, she was recognized as an influential leader in Georgia Trend’s Georgia 500 list. An active and passionate member of the State’s tourism industry, Smoak has served on the Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (GACVB) board, where she orchestrated a panel to discuss how cities, DMOs and CVBs can work better together.  She also spearheaded an effort to establish the first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) session at the GACVB’s annual meeting. The session received significant accolades and is among the highest-rated sessions the GACVB has ever offered.


“I plan to work with our Executive Committee to find the right replacement to step into this important role, ensuring the momentum we’ve created here in the District continues to grow well into the future,” said Smoak. “The great news is that my replacement will inherit the most incredible team I have ever had the privilege of leading, and will have the opportunity to work with some of the most outstanding businesses, entrepreneurs, attractions and facilities the state of Georgia has to offer.”


“As Cookie embarks on her next chapter, the ATL Airport District team and board express profound gratitude for her unparalleled contributions and leadership,” said David Offenhauser, chairman of the ATL Airport District CVB board. “Her knowledge, tenacious spirit and bright personality have been instrumental in her successful career and her impact will resonate throughout the District, and the southeastern tourism community for years to come.”


To learn more about the ATL Airport District CVB, call 404-334-7500 or visit For updates on everything in the District, follow us on FacebookInstagram and  YouTube.




About the ATL Airport District Convention & Visitors Bureau

The ATL Airport District Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the cities of College Park, Hapeville and Union City, Georgia. Home to the world’s most traveled airport, Georgia’s second largest convention center, more than 7,000 hotel rooms, an abundance of arts and culture, an eclectic mix of great restaurants, and located just minutes from downtown Atlanta, the ATL Airport District offers big-city amenities balanced with Southern charm.