MADISON, Wis. (March 13, 2024) – Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism honored the outstanding efforts of six organizations and individuals on Tuesday as the winners of the 2024 Governor’s Tourism Awards during the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Lake Geneva.

"These hardworking partners help drive the success of Wisconsin’s tourism industry, which is a critical economic engine for our state, generating $23.7 billion in economic impact,” said Gov. Evers. “I want to congratulate all the winners on this well-deserved recognition and thank them for their leadership, dedication and innovation that help support our state’s tourism industry and make Wisconsin a place that people from all over choose to visit."

“This year’s conference celebrated the theme of The Art of Tourism, and the Governor’s Tourism Award nominees represent the craftspeople behind the masterpiece that is Wisconsin tourism. These folks demonstrate an artist-like level of creativity, passion and commitment and help us paint a brighter future for everyone in the tourism industry,” said Secretary Anne Sayers. “I applaud this group for being trend-setters, go-getters and community champions. Wisconsin’s economy is stronger because of them.”

The Governor’s Tourism Awards were created in 2010 to recognize excellence and leadership in travel and hospitality. Across six categories, 62 individuals, businesses and destinations were nominated for the 2024 Governor’s Tourism Awards. The winners are:

Legacy Award — Stephanie Klett, VISIT Lake Geneva

Former Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett has devoted a nearly 40-year career to tourism. It started with a high school job at a water park, followed by hosting the radio and television program Discover Wisconsin for 18 years, winning an Emmy along the way. She served as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism between 2011-2019, growing tourism’s economic impact and debuting several new initiatives. Currently, Klett is the President and CEO of VISIT Lake Geneva. In being nominated, Klett was described as “the embodiment of Wisconsin tourism” who demonstrates a passion for promoting the people, places and destinations that make Wisconsin special.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Award — Paine Art Center and Gardens

The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh attracts visitors with art exhibits, cultural programming and the heritage of its grand estate setting. Open to the public since 1948, the Paine marked its 75th anniversary in 2023. Over the past two decades, the Paine has improved its grounds and amenities, expanded programming and hosted marquee art exhibitions, leading to significant growth for the organization. These efforts culminated into several milestones in 2023, including record-breaking attendance of more than 100,000 visitors and the organization’s largest-ever operating budget.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Award — Northcott Neighborhood House

The Northcott Neighborhood House organizes the annual Juneteenth Festival in Milwaukee, which commemorates the end of slavery and celebrates the liberation of Black Americans. What began as a small celebration in 1971 has grown into a massive festival and parade, drawing an estimated 170,000 visitors each year to Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood. In addition to organizing the festival and parade, the Northcott Neighborhood House operates a food pantry, stocks food boxes for senior citizens and provides job training opportunities.

Innovation Award — Destination Door County, Community Investment Fund

As a tourism marketing organization, Destination Door County recognizes tourism can directly benefit the residents who live in the community. In 2023, Destination Door County launched its Community Investment Fund. The innovative program provides grants to nonprofits and municipal governments for projects that simultaneously improve the quality of life for community members and improve the visitor experience. Last year, Destination Door County awarded $828,917 to 18 projects. The funds helped projects to improve and enhance public parks, expand outdoor recreation assets and restore a historic lighthouse.

Rising Star — Haleigh Doyle, Explore La Crosse

Haleigh Doyle began her career in the tourism industry when she joined Explore La Crosse in 2019. As the Director of Media & Marketing for the last five years, Doyle has overseen successful marketing campaigns, spearheaded public relations efforts, mentored interns and launched new promotional initiatives, among many other responsibilities. Her efforts have resulted in major growth to Explore La Crosse’s website traffic, social media followers and email subscribers. Doyle is described as having “a tireless work ethic” and always “staying in front of the ever-changing marketing industry trends.”

Service Excellence — Madison Children’s Museum, Education, Visitor Services and Outreach Teams

The staff of the Education, Visitor Services and Outreach teams at the Madison Children’s Museum guide 200,000 annual visitors on a journey of enjoyment, learning and self-discovery and interact directly with guests in a variety of capacities. A typical day for staff could include playing and engaging with guests, sharing their interest and knowledge, or answering visitors’ questions, all while demonstrating a crisp professionalism. Since the museum’s post-pandemic reopening, the staff have been instrumental in making visitors feel welcome, garnering high customer satisfaction scores along the way.

View a full list of the award nominees 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