TOPEKA – Kansas tourism professionals presented several awards at the 2017 Kansas Tourism Conference awards banquet held Oct. 25 at the Clarion Inn in Garden City, Kan. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism presented the following awards:

— Governor’s Tourism Award – Established in 1983 to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals or organizations to the Tourism Industry, the Governor's Award encourages others to strive for excellence. The award demonstrates cooperation, sustainability, quality and accountability. This year's award recipient epitomized the spirit of the award. 2017 marked the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. As a result, the communities of Caldwell, Wellington, Clearwater, Delano, Wichita, Newton, Durham, Abilene and Ellsworth actively collaborated with the states of Oklahoma and Texas to form the Chisholm Trail Sesquicentennial Committee. Their efforts, combined with individuals throughout their community, celebrated the legacy of the trail and paid homage to the American Cowboy. These dedicated individuals worked together to host a series of events, including cattle drives, re-enactments, educational programs, rodeos and a host of other celebrations bringing herds of people to their communities. Additionally, the group has petitioned the U.S. Department of Interior to recognize the trail as a National Historic Trail.

— Kansas Tourism Partnership Award – The Lindsborg and Kansas City, KS Convention & Visitor Bureaus were both honored for their hard work and creative ideas to help produce Kansas Tourism’s first InstaMeets. They both went above and beyond expectations that brought together people from across Kansas to share, explore and celebrate their communities by using the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeKS. The award recognizes the importance of collaboration in the successful development of tourism in Kansas.

— Kansas’ Finest Award – Patsy Terrell (In Memoriam), Hutchinson, member of the House of Representatives and freelance writer; Jim Hoy, Emporia, historian and cowboy poet; Mickey Shannon, Wichita, photographer and Kansas explorer; and Jim Owens, Topeka, volunteer and teaching assistant at Washburn University. The Kansas’ Finest award recognizes and honors advocates who promote the state’s attributes and maintain an abiding love for the sunflower state, exhibiting passion, perseverance, and pride in promoting destinations with statewide significance and national or international relevance.

"These awards highlight the vital role of dedicated individuals and organizations in growing the tourism industry in Kansas. Through their partnership, Kansas tourism will continue to be a significant part of the state's economy," said Linda Craghead, KDWPT Assistant Secretary for Parks and Tourism.

The Travel Industry Association of Kansas also recognized its membership’s top marketing talent. TIAK Marketing Awards focus on overall marketing initiatives and recognize state-level winners only.

— People’s Choice: Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau was honored for its Meeting Planner Survival Kit integrated campaign, containing a Meeting Planner Guide, Must See Brochure, Visitors Guide and promotional items useful to the recipient when determining future meeting and convention locations.

— Visitors Guide (designed in-house): Visit Wichita won for its 2017 Official Wichita Visitors Guide, providing multiple ways for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau received second place with their Visitors Guide and Map, and Honorable Mention went to Visit Topeka for their Visitors Guide.

— Visitors Guide (outsourced): eXplore Lawrence was awarded for its Unmistakably Lawrence Visitors Guide, which incorporated storytelling with their brand. Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau received second place with their 2017 Visitors Guide, and Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau received Honorable Mention for their 2017 Visitors Guide.

— Online Marketing: Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized for its redesigned website, branding them as the official source for visitor information. Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau received second place for its social media campaign, and Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau received Honorable Mention for its Social website.

— Integrated Campaign: Visit Wichita was honored for its promotion of the “Make the Most of Every Moment” campaign, emotionally connecting with potential visitors. Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau received second place for their 2017 Leisure Campaign, and Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau received Honorable Mention for its Meeting Planner Survival Kit.

— Print Marketing: Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau won for its print ads promoting Emporia’s Commercial Street and reflecting exciting events and opportunities. Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau also received second place for their billboards utilizing call to action phrases, and Kansas City Kansas Convention & Visitors Bureau received Honorable Mention for their print ads.

— Community Awareness: Marysville Chamber of Commerce was honored for its celebration of Marysville’s mascot, the black squirrel. eXplore Lawrence received second place for its new parking meter instructions, and Olathe Convention & Visitors Bureau received Honorable Mention for its Unmistakably Garmin Marathon.