HARTFORD, Conn., April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Governor Dannel P. Malloy, in partnership with the Connecticut Office of Tourism, announced the recipients of the 2016 Connecticut Governor's Tourism Awards at the annual Connecticut Governor's Conference on Tourism. The awards recognize individuals and organizations in the tourism industry that advance tourism in Connecticut and maximize its impact on the state's economic vitality.
More than 400 professionals from across Connecticut's tourism industry – a $14 billion sector of Connecticut's economy – were on hand at the Connecticut Convention Center to honor their peers. Seven individuals and organizations were honored in five separate categories. The recipients of the 2016 Connecticut Governor's Tourism Awards are:
- Tourism Legacy Leader: John Lyman III, Executive Vice President of Lyman Orchards (Middlefield)
John Lyman III exemplifies a legacy leader in the tourism industry — having transformed his family's 275-year-old, 1,100-acre farm into a multi-dimensional tourist destination that attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year. John has shared his father's early vision for the family farm as a tourist attraction long before the term "agritourism" was coined. John has continued what his father started, lifting it to a new level. Through John's leadership, the farm has undergone a dramatic shift. While John is recognized for his expertise as a fruit grower, he has also steered his family business toward becoming one of Connecticut's leading tourist destinations. In the 1960s, the family began offering pick-your-own fruit opportunities. Then in the 1970s, they transitioned from dairy farms to championship golf courses and opened a retail store. More recently, they've added activities like sunflower and corn mazes, the proceeds of which support important causes. John and the entire Lyman family are truly dedicated to providing visitors with a memorable experience.
- Tourism Leader of the Year: Stephen Tagliatela, Managing Partner and Innkeeper at Saybrook Point Inn, Marina, Spa (Old Saybrook)
Stephen has been a transformational force in Connecticut's shoreline region. Since acquiring Terra Mar Hotel in 1980, he has reinvigorated the historic area, turning it into a popular shoreline destination offering a world-class marina, cluster of accommodations, waterfront dining, spa, and event space. A strong advocate for the tourism industry, Stephen has also served on a variety of community boards and helped to establish Green Lodging and Clean Marina programs through the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
- Tourism Partners of the Year: Carmen Romeo, President of Fascia's Chocolates (Waterbury) and Howard Pincus, Trustee of the Railroad Museum of New England (Thomaston)
This award recognizes two or more organizations that have successfully collaborated to increase visitation to Connecticut. Fascia's Chocolates, located near the tracks of the Naugatuck Railroad, joined forces with the Railroad Museum of New England (RMNE) to create a unique travel experience. In the spring of 2015, the RMNE added a platform to create a Fascia's Station on its tracks. Over the course of the year, Fascia's and the RMNE offer several special events — including the Chocolate Decadence Sunset Tour, a chocolate and wine pairing on the train and at Fascia's location. They continue to look for opportunities to partner.
- Tourism Rising Star: Regan Miner, Consultant at Norwich Historical Society (Norwich)
Regan is the epitome of someone who has taken significant steps to make Connecticut a more attractive place to visit. For the past two and a half years, she has brought Norwich's rich history to life in a number of ways, including being the driving force behind three major projects: the Walk Norwich Campaign, the restoration of an 18th century schoolhouse and the creation of a permanent exhibit on Norwich's history. A recent graduate of UConn, Regan is currently enrolled in the public history masters program at Central Connecticut State University.
- Tourism Volunteer(s) of the Year: Jeffrey and Maryan Muthersbaugh, Co-owners of the Nehemiah Brainerd House B&B (Haddam)
Both Jeff and Maryan are valuable members of the Central Regional Tourism District's Board of Directors and serve as members on the Executive Committee, as well as members of the Connecticut Lodging Association. They were instrumental in forming the Connecticut Bed & Breakfast Association under the CLA umbrella. In addition to having a vested interest in tourism, they are both vocal advocates for statewide and regional tourism marketing.
The Connecticut tourism industry also announced two distinguished individuals who were awarded with 2016 Connecticut Tourism Industry Scholarship Grants:
- Richard B. Combs Hospitality Scholarship Grant
Lynette Fisher is currently a student at Manchester Community College and is completing her degree in hotel/tourism management. Her interests include historic preservation and heritage tourism and she hopes to work in that field upon graduation in May 2017.
- Walter Schoenknect Tourism & Travel Scholarship Grant
Emily Houchin is graduating this June from Mercy High School in Middletown. She will be attending Nichols College in the fall and will major in hospitality management.
Other conference highlights included the presentation of Connecticut's completely redesigned and rebuilt tourism website – www.CTvisit.com. The new site, a collaborative effort involving the Connecticut Office of Tourism, the state's many tourism businesses, local associations, other Connecticut state agencies and the regional tourism districts, features more than 4,000 places to visit, stay and eat in Connecticut, as well as hundreds of inspirational travel stories, vacation deals and event listings.
The conference also featured a compelling keynote address from Bruce Turkel, CEO of TURKEL brands, as well as a dozen workshops hosted by state and national tourism and marketing experts.
"As the only statewide tourism industry event, the conference continues to be a helpful tool for hundreds of travel and hospitality professionals," said Randy Fiveash, director, Connecticut Office of Tourism. "We look forward to building on the insights and momentum gained from the conference to have another banner summer in Connecticut."
About The Connecticut Governor's Conference on Tourism
The Connecticut Governor's Conference on Tourism is the only statewide tourism industry event. It brings together professionals from hotels, restaurants, casinos, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, historic sites, and cultural and arts institutions to share best practices and gain valuable insights from leading tourism and travel experts. The event is produced by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and Connecticut Office of Tourism, in partnership with the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. For more information, visit www.CTTourismConference.com.
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SOURCE Connecticut Office of Tourism