Dutchess Tourism Announces 2022 Awards of Distinction Winners
Dutchess Tourism, Inc. (DTI) announced the recipients of the 2022 Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, N.Y. Twenty-four finalists in each of eight categories and the Mary Kay Vrba Spirit Award were highlighted for demonstrating industry excellence, with remarks from Dutchess Tourism President & CEO Melaine Rottkamp, Assistant Dutchess County Executive Ron Hicks and DTI Board Chair David Bova.
“Hospitality and tourism can sometimes be a thankless business and we wanted to demonstrate our deep appreciation for these finalists and winners who make our community such a robust destination for visitors and residents to enjoy,” said Rottkamp. “Dutchess Tourism is a proud champion of our county, but no organization is successful without help. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and strong support we receive from our elected officials, civic and community leaders and our partners that allow us to do the work we are so passionate about.”
The Dutchess County Executive’s Award for Overall Distinction Winner: Adams Fairacre Farms Finalists included: Kaatsbaan Cultural Park and Winnakee Land Trust
The Hospitality Service Award of Distinction Winner: Paige Flori, Boutique Wines, Spirits and Cider Finalists included: Casey Jurutka, Shadows on the Hudson and Indira Naidu, Hyatt Place
The Accessible Hospitality Award of Distinction Winner: Walkway Over the Hudson and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Finalists included: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and Stony Kill Farm
Arts Award of Distinction Winner: Tivoli Artists Gallery Finalists included: Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College and Howland Cultural Center
Culinary Award of Distinction Winner: Sotano Food & Wine Finalists included: Café Les Baux and Vinny’s Deli & Pasta
Family Entertainment Award of Distinction Winner: Barton Orchards and Tree Top Adventures Finalists included: Gravity Vault Poughkeepsie and Sinterklaas
History Award of Distinction Winner: Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn Finalists included: Hopewell Depot Museum and Mesier Homestead and Museum/Wappingers Historical Society
Outdoors Award of Distinction Winner: Wethersfield Estate & Garden Finalists included: Quiet Cove Riverfront Park and Millbrook Tribute Garden
Mary Kay Vrba Spirit Award Honoree: Cliff Laube, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Mary Kay Vrba, former president & CEO of Dutchess Tourism, was on hand to present Laube the award bearing her name. He is the public programs and communications manager at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Laube was recognized for his dedication and leadership in creating more inclusive and welcoming experiences for people of all abilities so that visitors can form their own personal connections to the Roosevelts’ legacy.
"Dutchess County is the jewel in the crown of the beautiful Hudson Valley. We've long had the historic sites, recreational destinations and cultural resources around us that pique the interest of the visiting public, but it takes work for tourism to flourish,” said Laube. “Helping organizations like Dutchess Tourism do what they do has been a thrill for me, and I have high hopes for the future of travel to our community because I know the amazing team at Dutchess Tourism will continue to work for those of us who live and work in the county. I couldn't be more pleased -- and honored -- to receive an award named for a dear friend and mentor like Mary Kay Vrba."
Attendees enjoyed a morning of networking and locally sourced breakfast catered by Main Street Hospitality featuring local products generously donated from Soukup Farms, The Poughkeepsie Grind, Harney & Sons Fine Teas and Hudson Valley Fresh. The Awards of Distinction event was supported by Platinum Sponsors Adams Fairacre Farms, Central Hudson, Global Foundries, IBM, the Hudson Valley Renegades, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Nuvance Health and The Poughkeepsie Grand.
Rottkamp noted during the program that, despite concerns for the economy, travel remains a priority for individuals. According to Destination Analysts' Traveler Sentiment Index Report from November 7, 2022, more than 82% of American travelers say they already have existing trip plans in the next three months. Dutchess County has seen the tourism industry rebound with a record-setting $3.5 million in hotel occupancy taxes collected in 2021. Tourism Economics’ (an Oxford Economics company) annual report provided an optimistic outlook showing that visitors spent $632 million in Dutchess County, 93.7% of the record total reached in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dutchess County’s tourism industry consists of almost 1,200 businesses and organizations employing more than 9,000 of our friends and neighbors. It’s an important driver of our economy, and the County’s investment in Dutchess Tourism is an investment in our community’s economic growth and success, helping to enhance the quality of life for those who live and work here,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
DTI premiered a new video during the awards program that highlighted the promotional and business support efforts accomplished. It also highlighted new initiatives including the Dutchess Tourism Ambassador Program, a workforce training certification program and the Dutchess Finder mobile passport program with curated itineraries. The video is available on Dutchess Tourism’s YouTube channel.
This week, Dutchess Tourism kicked off its holiday ad campaign, inspiring people to travel to Dutchess during the winter months, a time when travel is typically slower. Visitors can find information on first-time visitor tips, holiday happenings and “Stay in Dutchess” hotel deals at www.dutchesstourism.com/winter.
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About Dutchess Tourism
Dutchess Tourism, Inc., the officially designated destination marketing organization for Dutchess County, is accredited by the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) of Destinations International. As a 501c6 non-profit organization, it works to bring tourism dollars to area businesses and the community by marketing and promoting the assets of Dutchess County to the nation and the world. The office is located at 3 Neptune Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie with 17 Tourist Information Centers located around Dutchess County. The website is DutchessTourism.com and they can be reached at 845-463-4000. Dutchess Tourism, Inc. is partially funded by monies received from the County of Dutchess.