During the 2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, held at Arrowwood Resort last night, several individuals, organizations and tourism businesses were recognized at the annual Explore Minnesota Tourism Awards for their contributions to the state’s $16 billion travel industry. Leadership award highlights include:

Marianna Khauv, owner of Best Western Chelsea Inn & Suites Monticello, was named “Outstanding Individual in Tourism” for her decades of work in the hospitality industry and contributions on behalf of the Minnesota tourism industry. In addition, Marianna has served on the board of directors for both the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Lodging Association, and is an active member of the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, appointed by the governor.

Kjersti Vick, marketing and public relations director, Visit Cook County, was presented with the “Tourism Rising Star” award. Kjersti’s leadership, intuition and curious nature have led to many innovative campaigns and long-lasting relationships that have made deep and lasting impacts, not only for Cook County, but for the entire state of Minnesota. This award recognizes an individual who is committed to making the destination a better place to visit and is passionate about promoting travel to and within the state of Minnesota.

Additional awards were presented in the following categories:

Only in MN Award Recipients:

Tourism Trailblazer Award: Otter Tail County
New Event of the Year: 2019 World Ploughing Competition, Lake of the Woods
New Event Award of Merit: Warroad’s October Festival
Only in MN Icon Award: Saint Paul Winter Carnival
Marketing Partner of the Year: Lake of the Woods Brewing Company
Destination Marketing Award Recipients:

Branding & Integrated Marketing Campaign: Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
Branding & Integrated Marketing Campaign: Minneapolis Northwest Tourism
Niche Targeting: Montgomery Area Community Club
Niche Targeting: Lake of the Woods Tourism
Social Media Campaign: Otter Tail Lakes Country Association
Special Project: Minne-Roadtrip (Owatonna, Faribault and Northfield)
Approximately 250 attendees from around the state attended the annual conference, including representatives of convention and visitors bureaus and other tourism promotion organizations; hotels, resorts and campgrounds; and a variety of attractions, such as museums, parks, zoos, malls and historic sites. For more details about the Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, visit exploreminnesota.com/conference.