Winners announced for 2024 Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards

Winners announced for 2024 Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards

NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards were given out on Wednesday during the North Dakota Travel Industry Conference.

Governor Doug Burgum, Lt. Governor Tammy Miller, Commerce Commissioner Josh Teigen, Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman, and DMAND President Sheri Grossman were all in attendance to present the six awards.

These awards recognize the passion and dedication of North Dakotans who have helped with the growth of tourism and travel.

“Tourism is a pillar of North Dakota’s economy, and we’re thrilled to honor these exceptional leaders who tirelessly build and promote our legendary state,” Governor BUrgum said during the conference. “Their creativity and dedication are what draw so many visitors each year. We owe a debt of gratitude to the 3,011 businesses and 43,877 individuals who work in the travel industry and set North Dakota apart, create unforgettable experiences, and contribute to our economic diversity.”

Robert Branting from the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site (RRMMSHS) in Cooperstown won the Heritage Award for a Front-Line Tourism Employee award. Branting’s passion for Cold War history shines through by making the complex subject engaging and interesting for visitors. He leverages social media and other tools to spread the story of the RRMMSHS.

Kim Schmidt with the North Dakota Department of Commerce won the Sakakawea Award for a Behind-the-Scenes Tourism Employee award. As the Commerce’s Communication Manager, Schmidt manages lots of responsibilities. She vetted influencer campaigns which led to partnerships, expanding reach, and promoting communities in ND as travel destinations.

Jamestown Episodes, a YouTube program, won the Amplifier Award for Marketing Excellence award. The 10-episode video series amplified Jamestown’s hidden gems and iconic sites like the National Buffalo Museum and the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge. It not only expanded the digital influence and social media reach but also drew visitors to Jamestown.

Matt Schanandore with Mandan Progress Organization won the Flint Firestarter Award for a Tourism Development Project award. Schanandore is the executive director and spearheaded the creation of the “Holiday Lights on Main” attraction which led to a vibrant holiday experience for visitors and Mandan families. It not only provides entertainment but also gives back to the community with food drives and volunteer opportunities.

Gary Greff with Enchanted Highway won the Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation award. Greff was the visionary behind the Enchanted Highway and transformed small town Regent. he created large metal sculptures that sit along a 32-mile stretch of I-94. Due to these artworks, he was able to also establish the Enchanted Castle hotel and gift shop.

Sheri Grossman with the Bismarck Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau won the Legend Award for Travel & Tourism Industry Leadership award. Grossman has been with the bureau since 1997 and became the executive director in 2015. Her influence extends through her involvement in multiple tourism organizations.

You can find more information about the winners and videos here.

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