Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mindy Shea is a southern girl through and through. So, it’s no doubt when she was contacted by a hospitality recruiter 16 years ago for a position with Visit Savannah, she jumped at the opportunity and made it her new home.
Now, as the director of international sales for Visit Savannah, Mindy’s primary role is to promote Savannah to international markets. Which, she admits, is and easy thing to do because of all this city has to offer.
“I get to travel around the world—which I already love doing—and talk about this city that I love so much,” Shea said. “The largest [markets] I visit are the UK and Germany, mostly. I’m able to showcase Savannah on a worldwide stage, talk about our businesses and culture, and let folks know we’re open for business.”
Although she has traveled far and wide, Savannah is definitely where Shea feels she belongs.
“I love Savannah’s quirkiness,” she said, sharing one of her favorite things about the town. “We have a beautiful, graceful city by day, filled with amazing museums and historic sites. But, at night, it transforms into a town filled with live music, theatre shows, and ghost tours.” (Shea is a bit of a paranormal investigator in her own right, she admits.)
As a transplant to the area, Shea understands how visitors can fall in love with all Savannah has to offer, especially in these new-normal times. “I think travelers are looking for places to go that are more authentic than the big cities. Not so overwhelming. A city where they can bring their family or have a romantic getaway. Where they can stroll the streets, eat amazing cuisine, and take spectacular photos they can brag about and share on social media.”
“Creating warm and positive memories and great hashtags,” she added with a laugh.
There must be something to the charm and allure of this city that can’t be proven by any scientific method. Instead, it is felt being here. “I always say people I meet who haven’t been to Savannah want to come, and those who’ve been here want to come back,” Shea said.
Shea loves how Savannah is full of hidden gems. “Yes, we have the well-known and beloved museums and historic homes, but we also have wonderful smaller places like the Webb Military Museum, the Massie Heritage Center, and the Savannah African
Art Museum that should be explored. It’s these little treasures that are so special to our town.”
While she mostly works to get visitor to our town, Shea stressed to locals that they should spend time in their city, as well.
“The best advice I can give to locals is to be a tourist in your own town. How many of you have taken a trolley tour? Or any other tour in town. Why not? You’ll learn so much [in 90 or so minutes] about the city you live in. If you have kids, take them on the free water taxi that runs from River Street. It’s a great way to get out on the water and see Savannah from another view without spending a penny.”
“And, if you haven’t been to the new Plant Riverside District, you’re missing out,” she said. “The [hotel] lobby resembles a natural history museum with interesting artifacts everywhere you look, including a breathtaking geode and fossil collection. It’s also a great place to grab bite to eat and sit and watch the ships go by.”
Mindy said one of the best things she and her husband, Ricky Frazier, enjoy doing regularly is taking in the sunset from one of Savannah’s many rooftop bars.
“It really reminds you of just why you love living in this beautiful city of ours so much.”