Mankato, Minn. — During the 2018 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, held at the Verizon Center this week, several individuals, organizations and tourism businesses were recognized at the annual Excellence in Tourism Awards banquet for their contributions to the state’s $15.0 billion travel industry.
Julie Lunning, executive director of Visit St. Cloud, was named “Outstanding Individual in Tourism” for her long-term work on behalf of the Minnesota tourism industry. In addition to serving on many industry boards and commissions, she was instrumental in the community recently hosting several large events, including the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener and 2018 Hockey Day Minnesota.
Two “Friend of Tourism” awards were presented to the Department of Natural Resource’s Mike Kurre and Bois Forte’s Fortune Bay Resort for outdoor promotional efforts and significant tourism efforts in northeast Minnesota, respectively.
Grandma’s Marathon received a “Minnesota Signature Event Award” for the race, which generates significant travel dollars to the state of Minnesota, and the substantial national and international media exposure this event has generated.
“These awards go to our entire community that comes together around marathon weekend,” said Shane Bauer, executive director at Grandma’s Marathon. “It’s the second year for the Minnesota Signature Event Award, and a recipient last year was the Ryder Cup. These are great honors from our state tourism agency and the national running community.”
Explore Minnesota Industry Award winners were:
. Mall of America: Visitor Attraction of the Year
. Schwan’s USA CUP: Event of the Year
. Dan Hartman, Glensheen Mansion: Rising Star of the Year
Explore Minnesota Marketing Awards were presented to:
. Hutchinson Area Chamber and Tourism: Marketing Campaign
. Visit Northfield: Website
. Visit Grand Rapids: Social Media
. Visit Bemidji: Marketing Campaign
. Visit Winona: Branding Initiative