Visit Loudoun honored former County Chairman Scott K. York with its most prestigious award during its 20th annual meeting and tourism awards ceremony Tuesday.
The Visit Loudoun board of directors voted by blind ballot to award York the 2015 Judy Patterson Tourism Award, named for one of its founding members.
“This was all about teamwork, these past 16 years, and look at where we are today,” York said.
Visit Loudoun established the award in 1998 to honor individuals and organizations that have contributed to Loudoun’s tourism industry. The 20th annual meeting and tourism awards ceremony was a chance to celebrate the work of the tourism and hospitality industry in Loudoun.
“Talk about an invisible industry,” said Visit Loudoun President and CEO Beth Erickson. “We’re everywhere.”
The awards program also featured remarks from U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) and Aaron Nissen, a senior strategy consultant at Destination Think!, a Canadian travel marketing firm.
“Our economic development is really smart economic development,” Comstock said. “It brings us all together, and it makes this the best place to live, work and play.”
Nissen told the audience about marketing to millennials, now the largest part of the workforce and soon to have more spending power than any other segment of the population. For millennials, he said, it’s all about connectivity and experiences over products, which is good news for the tourism industry, which competes with material products for disposable income.
“Word of mouth has always been the driver of tourism,” Nissen said.
About 260 people attended the luncheon, and raffle during lunch raised more than $2,500 for the Visit Loudoun Foundation.
“We’re like swans,” said outgoing Visit Loudoun intern Shelby Stein. “Because we look polished, professional, and pretty on the outside, but underneath the water, our feet are moving a mile a minute.”
2015 Visit Loudoun Tourism Award Winners
Tourism Event of the Year, attendance over 3,000
PONY Nationals Girls Softball Tournament
Tourism Event of the Year, attendance up to 3,000
Loudoun Wineries Association Ultimate Winemaker Experience
Tourism Marketing Promotion/Campaign
Shocktober, Paxton Campus
Tourism Volunteer of the Year
Joe Becek, Docent and Historical Interpreter with Northern Virginia Parks
Tourism Front-Line Employee of the Year
Tina Kumpf, Sales Coordinator, Hilton Garden Inn Dulles
Tourism Management Employee of the Year Co-Winners
Rohitha Basnayake, Asst. General Manager, Hampton Inn Cascades
Lisa Wilhelm, Asst. Front Office Manager, Lansdowne Resort
Steve Hines Partner of the Year
Loudoun Department of Economic Development
Judy Patterson Tourism Award
Scott York, Former Member, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
Tyiesha Thaxton, Lansdowne Resort