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Governor Walker Honors Five From Tourism Industry for Excellence

MADISON, Wis. (March 4, 2014) – A hospitality leader with more than 30 years of service to the industry; a convention center that hosted free events to the community; America's oldest professional resident summer theater; an Inn that was one of the first Travel Green Wisconsin certified properties in the state and a successful new executive director from Northern Wisconsin are just a few of the things that made this year’s Governor’s Tourism Award winners exceptional. Governor Scott Walker presented five recipients with the Governor’s Tourism Award tonight for their outstanding contributions to the state’s hospitality and tourism industry during the closing dinner at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Lake Geneva. 

“Wisconsin’s scenic beauty and iconic attractions set the stage for tourism in the state, but it’s the people in the hospitality industry that are the driving force behind travelers returning here year after year," said Governor Walker. “The five honorees recognized consistently deliver memories, and that’s what keeps people coming back to Wisconsin and growing the tourism economy.”

Sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Tourism, The Governor’s Tourism Awards recognize individuals and businesses for their commitment to excellence, achievements, dedication and leadership that have resulted in a significant impact on Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry.

“This year we had a total of 28 nominations, and these are the people who set the bar high for the whole tourism industry,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “Day in and day out, they embody our mission of making Wisconsin the premier destination for fun in the Midwest. Our five honorees should be truly proud to be selected from a pool of such outstanding talent in our industry.”

The five recipients are as follows:

• Legacy Award – Lola Roeh, General Manager, The Osthoff Resort

Since 1998, Lola has been the general manager of the AAA Four Diamond Osthoff Resort, while overseeing the property and staff, as well as playing a major role in the research, development and execution of new business and expansions within the resort. She has created an environment of longevity in staff employment at The Osthoff Resort. Lola serves as a mentor in the field not just to those she manages, but within the community and state. She served as chair of the Governor’s Council on Tourism and received Innkeeper of the Year from the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association. Lola has exhibited herself as a visionary in the field and a true entrepreneur. She has been quoted as saying, “We are never ones to rest on our laurels and we’re always looking to be a leader in hospitality trends.”

• Rising Star Award – Michelle Voight, Executive Director, Washburn County Tourism Association

Michelle developed and implemented a 3-year marketing plan for the county, which included winter and ATV advertising, online marketing and brochure campaigns. She also launched a new website; streamlined social media marketing; implemented an interactive kiosk at a major highway wayside; initiated a tourism newsletter; produced maps, guides and brochures; and received Tourism Information Center Grants to help offset costs. Direct visitor spending in Washburn County rose 4 percent in 2011, followed by an increase of 9 percent in 2012.  Michelle spends the hours to make things happen rather than the minutes to take the credit. Michelle demonstrates her commitment to the industry with each project and task she takes on and takes personal responsibility to ensure the promotion of the county and the region as a whole.

• Stewardship Award – Pinehurst Inn 

Not your typical bed and breakfast, Pinehurst has a mission to be a premier eco-lodging facility, providing the highest level of green lodging hospitality and guest experience while preserving and promoting the unique historical and environmentally sensitive nature of the property and the area. Pinehurst is committed to sustainability in all practices, and serves as a model for other tourism businesses. Pinehurst was one of the first Travel Green Wisconsin certified members when the program first launched in 2007. They go above and beyond in their use of green practices whether it’s serving 75 percent locally grown food on their menu, providing guests with reusable water bottles or offering sustainable workshops to other businesses. Pinehurst uses a “triple bottom-line” philosophy: measuring financial, natural and social capital to determine overall success.

• Service Excellence Award – Monona Terrace Convention Center

The vision of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center is to deliver an exceptional and inspirational experience to the thousands of people who visit each year. The staff strives to consistently deliver great memories that keep people coming back and support the state’s growing economy. The facility is one of only a handful of convention centers in the nation that serves over 50,000 people with more than 500 programs, a majority of them at no cost. The Monona Terrace measures service excellence success by increased public attendance, being fully ADA compliant and maintaining LEED certification. More than 60 dedicated volunteers donated over 3,600 hours in 2013. A project 60 years in the making, the Monona Terrace serves as a convention center, community gathering place and tourism destination for Wisconsin.

• Arts, Culture and Heritage Award – Peninsula Players Theatre

As America's oldest professional resident summer theater, Peninsula Players has been committed to developing the arts and artists in northeastern Wisconsin and Door County since 1935. The theater became the cornerstone of a burgeoning performing and visual arts scene which continues to grow to this day. Since it first opened, Peninsula Players has presented over 450 plays, enhancing the lives of tens of thousands of audience members. Many talented and distinguished actors have graced the stage, establishing a reputation for an outstanding theater experience. Peninsula Players is a pillar in the local community and helped establish the region’s reputation for having one of the very best and most unique performing arts scenes in the nation. The Peninsula Players Theatre’s rich 79-year history is inextricably woven into the fabric of Door County and Wisconsin.

More information about the Governor’s Tourism Awards is available on www.wigcot.org. 

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun. By executing industry-leading marketing programs, providing reliable travel information and establishing strategic partnerships, we will play a significant role in delivering exceptional customer service and generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com. 

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