State tourism awards presented at annual conference

A star-powered marketing
campaign, a Halloween celebration that digs deep into the past and a TV talk
show that proudly calls Missouri home were among the award winners at the
annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism Oct. 8-10 in Columbia.

Eight awards were presented during the
conference to individuals, organizations and events for their efforts to boost
tourism in the Show-Me State.

“Attracting visitors to a
region requires skill, creativity and determination,” said Ward Franz, director
of the Missouri Division of Tourism. “These awards recognize outstanding work to
bring tourism dollars into our state.”

The award
winners are:

of Fame Award:
to an individual who has worked in the tourism industry for a minimum of 10
years and whose contributions have significantly and measurably impacted
tourism in Missouri.

Recipient: Gary Figgins, publisher of Show-Me
magazine. Figgins has been promoting Missouri as a tourism destination
for more than 20 years with his magazine – featuring places to visit in
the Show-Me State – and as a long-time member of the Missouri Travel Alliance
board of directors.

Campaign Award:
an effective integrated marketing campaign that results in increased tourism and
economic benefit to a region.

Recipient: Explore St. Louis for its In the Know campaign. The ad campaign
features actors Sterling K. Brown and John Goodman, track and field athlete and
Olympic medalist Jackie Joiner-Kersee, and radio and television personality,
producer and writer Andy Cohen sharing their passion for their hometown and favorite
places to visit.

Innovator Award: Honors a small tourism organization or
individual who achieves significant results on a modest budget.

Recipient: City of Warsaw. Through local partnerships and a focus on the outdoors, Warsaw has worked to
transform the town into a recreation destination. A waterfront trail
system – connected to its revitalized downtown – garnered the city national
recognition as one of the most bike- and pedestrian-friendly small cities in
the country.

Recognizes an
event or organization that successfully develops a niche tourism market.

Recipient: Legends & Lanterns, a multi-weekend Halloween
celebration held during October in St. Charles. The family-friendly event on
historic Main Street draws its inspiration from the past, featuring witches,
villains and other infamous characters from history.

Media Award:
to a media outlet that promotes tourism in Missouri and its importance to the state’s

Jeff Houghton, creator
and host of The Mystery Hour, a talk/variety show filmed in Springfield. In
addition to featuring Missouri destinations and attractions, the monthly taping of the show at
the historic Gilloiz Theater has become an attraction itself.

Star Award:
Honors an
individual who has worked for a tourism-related organization less than five
years or who has transitioned to a new role and made significant advancements
to the organization’s efforts.

Melissa Mohler,
director of tourism in Clay County. Mohler worked to establish the county’s new
tourism office as an official destination marketing organization and qualify
for a matching marketing grant to attract visitors to the region.

Recognizes an
individual, business or organization that has demonstrated excellent customer

Greg Maxon, Greater
Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Maxon has spent much of his
career promoting the St. Charles area. He currently focuses on bringing sporting
events and group tours to the city.

Emory Melton Legislative Award:
­Honors an individual who
recognizes the value of tourism to the state and works through the legislative
process to support Missouri’s tourism industry.

David Sater, state
senator representing the 29th district and member of the Missouri
Tourism Commission. Sen.
Sater was recognized for his efforts
to promote the impact of the tourism industry on Missouri’s economy.

In addition to the awards presentation, the conference featured education workshops and guest speakers who addressed a variety of topics related to the tourism industry.


The Missouri Division of Tourism, a division of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, works to market the Show-Me State as a destination for travelers and to increase the number of tourists and travel-related spending. In Fiscal Year 2017, Missouri welcomed a record 42 million visitors and saw a record $16.8 billion in tourism-related spending.