MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney presented five recipients with Governor’s Tourism Awards for their outstanding contributions to the state’s hospitality and travel industry during a virtual presentation this week. The Department originally intended to present the awards at their 2020 Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I wish we could have been together in person to celebrate the tourism leaders that helped make 2019 Wisconsin’s tourism economy’s best year on record. Unfortunately, life had other plans for our leadership,” said Meaney. “Wisconsin is lucky to have a top-notch group of industry professionals promoting our industry.”

Tourism had a $22.2 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2019 and supported more than 202,000 jobs. Every $1 the Department of Tourism invested in tourism promotion drove $95 in visitor spending in communities throughout Wisconsin.

Sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Tourism, the Governor’s Tourism Awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses for their excellence, dedication and impact on Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry.

The five recipients are as follows:

Legacy Award – Deb Archer, Destination Madison

For the past 26 years, Deb Archer has brought her infectious demeanor and servant leadership style to her role as President and CEO of Destination Madison. She leads efforts that put Madison on the national map as a destination for visitors, conventions and meetings, and sporting events. She’s an active industry leader on all levels, serving with organizations such as Destination Wisconsin, the Governor’s Council on Tourism and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Meetings and Conventions Committee. Whether it is developing curriculum for Destination International or having coffee with an emerging leader, Archer consistently uses her extensive knowledge to give back to the next generation of the tourism professionals. Archer is committed to the growth of both the people around her and the tourism industry, continuing to cultivate community and curate understanding through her work.

Rising Star Award – Cameryn Kwaterski, Visit Rome, WI, Inc.

Kwaterski is the first Executive Director of Visit Rome, WI, Inc., which was incorporated in 2018. She immediately put her passion for the area to work in establishing the non-profit, creating its brand, and implementing organizational structure and financial management. Under her leadership, Visit Rome was awarded a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. She also created new print and online media for the organization and established events such as a fundraising concert series and Taste of Rome. Her contagious enthusiasm for tourism makes a big impact in Rome and beyond.

Stewardship Award – Village of Egg Harbor

In 2017, a dedicated group of eco-focused minds came together in Egg Harbor to bring more sustainable practices to the community with an environmental health mission. Recognized as a Green Tier Legacy Community, the Village of Egg Harbor created a task force to turn the conversation into action. New programs include a free bike share system, public seed library, using solar energy in the village, and adding new recycling containers and electric car charging stations. To bring these practices to other areas, Egg Harbor has shared their process and collaborated with other communities. As residents and travelers alike continue to prioritize sustainable practices, the Village of Egg Harbor has taken important steps in their mission to think globally and act locally.

Service Excellence Award – Heart of Canal Street, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Since its inception in 1994, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Heart of Canal Street campaign has raised more than $20 million to make a positive impact in children’s lives, all through bingo. Annually from August to December, the bingo game is played daily by tens of thousands of participants and raises money for 31 charities in the greater Milwaukee area that directly benefit children. This financial support enables programs to place food on plates and roofs over heads, provide mentorship and supplemental education, bring the arts to youth, and offer comfort and assistance during medical challenges. Played by locals and tourists each year, the game raised a record total of almost $1.2 million for these organizations in 2019.

Arts, Culture and Heritage – Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel

Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s theatre and entertainment district, Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel is a destination for visitors to experience and celebrate art in many forms. Named after Saint Catherine, the patron saint of artists, the hotel includes a 95-seat black box theatre, multiple gallery and exhibition spaces and five unique culinary experiences. Each floor in the hotel reflects a different form of art and each of the 219 guest rooms feature desks with butcher block paper for guests to sketch, a ukulele, a record player and collection of records. Since opening in June 2019, the hotel has welcomed over 33,500 guests and has garnered a considerable about of media coverage and impressions. Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel offers guests a place to explore their curiosity and expand their creativity.

More information about the Governor’s Tourism Awards and all nominees is available here.