MADISON, Wis. (March 15, 2023) – From a record-setting number of nominees, six individuals and organizations were honored Tuesday with Governor’s Tourism Awards for outstanding contributions to Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry during the 2023 Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

“Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry continues to rebound and break records, and these talented, innovative award recipients have been key to that success,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud to honor their good work and to propose significant investments in the state budget so we can keep supporting the hardworking folks in our tourism industry in the coming years.”

“Wisconsin tourism is having a big moment, and these award winners represent some of the biggest thinkers and doers in the field,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers. “It’s an honor to recognize their knowledge, commitment and innovation, which uplifts the entire industry and inspires their peers. I congratulate the recipients of this year’s Governor’s Tourism Awards and all the nominees for the exceptional standard they set in the industry.”

Across six categories, 73 individuals, businesses and destinations were nominated for the Governor’s Tourism Awards this year — the most since the recognition was created in 2010. The winners of the 2023 Governor’s Tourism Awards are:

Arts, Culture and Heritage Award — John Michael Kohler Arts Center

A local treasure for more than 50 years, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) is a visual and performing arts complex in Sheboygan that supports the work of self-taught and contemporary artists. The JMKAC’s two free museums, festivals, programs and more attract thousands each year. In 2021, the JMKAC opened The Preserve — an experimental space to house and save its collection of “artist-built environments.” In addition to nurturing artists in the creation of new work, the JMKAC offers a wide variety of programming to engage community members of all ages.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Award — The Ability Center

The Ability Center is on a mission to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to be fit, active, healthy and to play. The Milwaukee-based nonprofit helps communities to become more universally accessible and to provide recreation opportunities for people of varying abilities. Through its RampUp program, The Ability Center transformed Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach into one of the country’s most accessible beaches. The project involved the creation of a safe, accessible route to get to Lake Michigan through the installation of a ramp and an accessible beach mat leading right to the water’s edge. It is one of the many efforts The Ability Center has undertaken in a goal to make Milwaukee the most accessible recreation destination in the country.

Innovation Award — Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce, Kriskindlmarkt

The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the city’s annual European-style holiday market, known as Kriskindlmarkt, which has been growing in popularity since its inception in 2015. The market started as a way for downtown merchants in the Monroe County community to revitalize their storefronts and boost business. It has since expanded and is recognized as one of Wisconsin’s best outdoor holiday markets. The event includes more than 20 huts to shop at, traditional food and drink like bratwursts and glühwein, and entertainment. In 2022, the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce significantly expanded marketing efforts, including into out-of-state markets, and saw successful results from the campaign.

Legacy Award — Romy Snyder, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau

Romy Snyder has lived and breathed tourism her entire life. A graduate of the Wisconsin Dells High School, Snyder grew up working in her family’s motel and then the iconic Tommy Bartlett Show. For the past 27 years, Snyder has led the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau as President and CEO through a period that saw the region become a year-round destination and an explosive growth in visitor spending. Snyder has also offered her expertise by serving on various committees and is a respected leader in tourism across the country.

Rising Star Award — Megan Langer, Owner and Operator of The Port of Prescott, The Cove Guest House and The Harbor Hotel

In the last three years, Megan Langer has remodeled and opened three luxurious, affordable boutique hotels in the Mississippi River community of Prescott: The Port of Prescott, The Cove Guest House and The Harbor Hotel. The properties, which are largely renovated by Langer and her father, have opened the door for tourism opportunities and new events in Prescott with visitors now having places to stay the night. The hotel tax revenue the properties generate also helped with the formation of the newly established Prescott Tourism Committee, which Langer chairs along with sitting on the Pierce County Tourism Board.

Service Excellence Award — The Bartolotta Restaurants

Over three decades, The Bartolotta Restaurants have built a reputation of exceptional cuisine and exemplary customer service. Paul Bartolotta, who co-founded and owns the company that now operates 17 restaurants and catering facilities in the Milwaukee area, emphasizes the importance of people in the organization, from welcoming guests with a memory-worthy experience to helping elevate the careers of the hospitality workers at his restaurants. The quality of service at The Bartolotta Restaurants is recognized nationally, having been nominated for an Outstanding Restauranteurs award by the James Beard Foundation four consecutive years. Outside of the hospitality industry, Bartolotta and his company aid Milwaukee-area nonprofits through the charitable arm Care-a-lotta.

Learn more about the full list of nominees for the 2023 Governor’s Tourism Awards here.


About the Wisconsin Department of Tourism
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to inspire travelers to visit Wisconsin. Because we believe in the power of exploration and travel, we work to market the state as a premier travel destination. By executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships, the Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact for Wisconsin through tourism. Learn more at