Kansas City, Kansas, marked a good year for tourism with its annual Tourism Celebration on May 1, according to Maila Yang, marketing and communications manager for the Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Research and data has shown that domestic travel is up in the United States, while there is less international travel, she said.
Awards were presented at a luncheon held at the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Missouri.
“Awards are important, they are what makes tourism successful in Kansas City, Kansas,” Yang said.
Receiving the Excellence in Hospitality Award was Luther Smith of the Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum, 3436 N. 27th St., Kansas City, Kansas, in the Vernon Multipurpose Center.
Smith was recognized for his support and partnership with the CVB, and his professionalism, hospitality and exceptional customer service to all visitors, according to the CVB. He has also represented the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and is a passionate promoter of the Northeast area of Kansas City, Kansas.
The National Wheelchair Softball Association World Series Aug. 8-11, 2018, received the Tourism Event of the Year Award. Held in the parking lots of the T-Bones Stadium and Children’s Mercy Park, the event drew 18 teams from throughout the United States and one team from Japan.
The event generated 500 room nights and plans to return Aug. 15-18, 2019, to Kansas City, Kansas.
Accepting the award were John Teegarden and Bill Brooks of the National Wheelchair Softball Association.
Lakeside Speedway at 5615 Wolcott Drive, Kansas City, Kansas, which experienced a flood this spring, received the Tourism Organization of the Year Award.
The 4/10-mile dirt track is very close to the Missouri River in northwest Kansas City, Kansas.
While its opening was delayed by flooding this year, track officials at the tourism celebration said they plan to reopen by the end of this month.
Lakeside Speedway is celebrating its 65th anniversary. USRA Modified, USRA Stock Car, USRA B-Mod, Grand National and factory stock races are held at the track.
Pete Howey, general manager of Lakeside Speedway, accepted the award.
Matt Lawrence received the Tourism Advocate of the Year Award for his leadership and contributions to Kansas City, Kansas, tourism.
Lawrence, now managing a hotel and convention center in Independence, Missouri, is a past general manager of the Great Wolf Lodge, and until January 2019, was the general manager of Schlitterbahn Waterpark – Kansas City. He is the immediate past chair of the Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors board of directors.
The CVB’s executive director, Bridgette Jobe, has announced that she will be joining the Kansas Division of Tourism as director of tourism in July, Yang said. The Division of Tourism is under the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
“Over the next month, she’ll be working with the board of directors to make sure the transition is seamless,” Yang said.
Jobe began work with the CVB in 1998 as tourism manager, and was appointed executive director in 2005. She led the organization through a considerable growth of tourism in Kansas City, Kansas.
Jobe also serves as chair of the Governor’s Council on Travel and Tourism and was the 2017 president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.
She received the 2019 Hospitality Leadership Award for the Kansas City Hotel and Lodging Association.
Her replacement has not yet been named.
“The board has not had a chance to meet yet, I’m sure they will continue to make sure it’s running smoothly, continue to meet our goals and the important work of the CVB,” Yang said.