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2021 New York State Tourism Excellence Awards Recipients Honored

May 6, 2021

New York's tourism professionals,
'extraordinary work in an extraordinary year'
acknowledged in virtual ceremony -

– Destination marketing organizations, museums, attractions, and other tourism related businesses gathered virtually at 11:30 AM on Thursday, May 6 to honor the efforts of their peers. The 2021 New York State Tourism Excellence Awards acknowledge the work done in crisis conditions during the 2020 pandemic year.

The event was presented as a webcast from the New York State Museum co-hosted by Ross Levi, Vice President / Executive Director of Tourism at Empire State Development / NYS Division of Tourism and Josiah Brown, Board Chair of the New York State Tourism Industry Association.

COVID-19 presented a disproportionate challenge to the tourism industry. Tourism related or dependent businesses were among the most adversely affected due to COVID regulations and restrictions. Large meetings and events were canceled, and many venues were closed or subject to severe capacity restrictions. Tourism industry professionals redirected their efforts in new directions, supporting local residents and sustaining local businesses, while rising to the occasion to meet unprecedented health related guidelines and special needs for travelers.

The New York State Tourism Excellence Awards are juried by an impartial panel of industry experts under the auspices of the New York State Tourism Industry Association. Nominations were up 250% vs 2019 and the judges were challenged by both the volume and the caliber of the entries.

“Each year at these awards I am amazed at the creativity, commitment and innovation demonstrated by tourism professionals across the state," reflected Josiah Brown, President of New York's Best Experiences and Board Chair of NYSTIA. “But the work done in 2020 wasn't just good, or even great… at times it rose to the level of heroic."

“Working collaboratively in New York State's tourism community enables you to network with some of the best minds, most experienced individuals and trendsetting thought leaders in the global tourism industry." states Bob Provost, President of the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA). “The individuals, campaigns, initiatives and projects being honored are world-class. I am humbled by their achievements and service to their communities in 2020."

The awards are administered annually by the New York State Tourism Industry Association.

About New York State Tourism:
Tourism is the third largest industry in New York State. The tourism industry has paid dividends for years to New York's economy, setting new records for economic benefit in each of the past five years. In 2019, the tourism industry attracted 265 million visitors and generated record high levels of impact:

  • $72 Billion in spending at New York State businesses large and small,
  • $39 Billion in disposable income and over 961,000 jobs for New York State residents and
  • $9+ Billion in state and local taxes, the equivalent of $1,248 for every New York State household.

During the pandemic year of 2020, tourism was inarguably New York's most impacted industry. In fact, New York State was the third most impacted state in the country.

By year-end 2020, the tourism industry was devastated:

  • Average annual employment declined 34%, a loss of over 330,000 jobs vs 2019 - nearly three times the employment impact in any other major category!
  • An estimated 56% loss in travel spending at New York State businesses and a corresponding 45% drop in state and local tax revenues.

About New York State Tourism Industry Association:
The New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) advances economic growth, job creation, community revitalization, quality of life and pride of place by realizing the potential of New York State's tourism industry and facilitating the success of its members. We serve New York State's tourism industry through collaborative initiatives, research, legislative awareness, and exceptional marketing. www.nystia.org


2021 Award Recipients

Award recipients are listed in the following format:
Nominee/Campaign Name from Organization Name:
Award Category : Subcategory

Roberta Byron-Lockwood from Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association:
Excellence in Leadership: Career Achievement

Dallas Thurn from the National Comedy Center:
Excellence in Young Professional Leadership

Christine Worth from the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council:
Excellence in Leadership in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis by an individual

'Find a Way to Get in the Way' initiative by the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection (Ontario County):
Excellence in Leadership in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis by an organization

'Catskill Confidence' campaign from the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association:
Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing : Tourism Marketing Organizations at the Local Level

DiscoverUpstateNY.com Tourism Project from Discover Upstate NY:
Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing by a Private Sector Entity

“Pathway Forward Strategy" from the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST):
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Best COVID Response Marketing Effort to Pivot to Success

“Apple Tasting Tour U Pick The Way APP" from the Wayne County Office of Tourism
Excellence in Tourism Marketing Best COVID Response Marketing Effort to Pivot to Success

“360-degree video site visits" from Destination Niagara USA
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Best Use of Digital Tools To Keep Tourism Top-of-Mind

“Safe at Home" from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Best Use of Digital Tools To Keep Tourism Top-of-Mind

“Spirit of Cortland County Video Series" from Experience Cortland
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Best Use of Digital Tools To Keep Tourism Top-of-Mind

“Penguin Pierre Safety & Visitation Campaign" from The Corning Museum of Glass
Excellence in Tourism Marketing Campaigns: Digital Marketing Campaign

“Apple Tasting Tour U Pick The Way APP" from the Wayne County Tourism
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Digital Marketing Campaign

“Dove Trail" from the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Niche Marketing

“Come Play in Our Backyard" - Visit Rochester's Family Marketing Campaign from Visit Rochester Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Niche Marketing

“Discover Seneca Visitor Guide" from the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Printed Collateral Materials

“2020 Rhinebeck Destination Guide" Content Studio @ Martinelli Custom Publishing
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Printed Collateral Materials

“Politely Adirondack" from the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST)
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Public Relations Campaign

“Rochester Rising, Sparking a Message of Goodwill and Hope" from Visit Rochester
Excellence in Tourism Marketing: Public Relations Campaign

“The Visitor Experience Fund – Accessibility" from the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection (Ontario Cty) Excellence in Tourism Stewardship: Economic Development & Destination Improvement

Virginia Norfleet / Clinton Street Cultural District /Haverstraw African American Connection Excellence in Tourism Stewardship: Economic Development & Destination Improvement

“Visitor Services: Virtual, Value Added and Virus-Free" from the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, Excellence in Visitor Service: Public Sector

“COVID response programs" from the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
We Are All In This Together: COVID-Related Impact in Outreach to/Support of The Consumer

“VISIT Staten Island COVID Initiatives" from VISIT Staten Island
We Are All In This Together: COVID-Related Impact in Outreach to/Support of The Consumer

“Pathway Forward Strategy" for the Adirondacks / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) We Are All In This Together: COVID-Related Impact in Support of Community /Local Businesses

“COVID Business Support Activities" from Dutchess Tourism
We Are All In This Together: COVID-Related Impact in Support of Community / Local Businesses

“Community Meal Donations" from the Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern
We Are All In This Together: COVID-Related Impact in Support of Community / Local Businesses