YAKIMA (Oct. 31, 2023) – State of Washington Tourism (SWT) announced the winners of its tourism awards last week at the annual State of Washington Tourism Conference. The awards recognize excellence in tourism work from around the state. Awards were presented for Outstanding Marketing Campaign, Rising Star in Tourism, Destination Stewardship, and Tourism Hall of Leadership.

The awards were presented at the State of Washington Tourism Conference, held Oct. 24-25 at the Yakima Convention & Event Center. Approximately 290 industry professionals from across the state attended. The conference featured a keynote address by Sherry L. Rupert, CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), and sessions with industry experts as well as opportunities for attendees to experience the local Yakima Valley Tourism offerings.

The award for Outstanding Marketing Campaign was presented to Visit Walla Walla for their video series, As Artists. The campaign, created in partnership with a local filmmaker, showcased the variety of artists living throughout the community and sharing why they chose to make Walla Walla their home. The videos saw excellent engagement and helped drive awareness of the arts community in the destination.

The award for Rising Star in Tourism was presented to Shara Howard, Communications Manager at Visit Vancouver WA. The award is presented to a new industry professional or volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the tourism efforts of a business, nonprofit organization, community, or tourism business segment. Nominees must have tenures in tourism of 5 years or less. Howard was recognized for advancing her organization’s communications and outreach and helping to uplevel social media platforms.

The Destination Stewardship Award was presented to Embrace Whidbey and Camano Islands for Regenerative Places, a Community-Based Tourism Model. The project reimagined tourism to genuinely be a force for good, thereby seeking to improve the lives of residents while enriching visitor experiences and benefiting the natural environment. The entry stood out for the sincerity and seriousness devoted to destination stewardship by local residents and tourism practitioners.

State of Washington Tourism also inducted two industry veterans into the Tourism Hall of Leadership. Mary Kay Nelson was recognized for her work with the Lewis County Visitors Bureau, Visit Rainier, and the White Pass Scenic Byway.

Marcus Yearout, retired owner of the ScenicWA guides, was recognized for his work to promote Washington State through guides at both the state and local level.


About State of Washington Tourism

State of Washington Tourism (the recently rebranded Washington Tourism Alliance) is a 501(c)(6) organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of developing and sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. SWT procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements the strategic statewide destination marketing plan. Visit the destination website at www.stateofWAtourism.com or the tourism industry site at www.industry.stateofWAtourism.com.

Tracy Rabsky
Public Relations, GreenRubino for State of Washington Tourism
E: WATourismPR@greenrubino.com
P: 206-452-8185