Thomas Jefferson Foundation receives annual tourism award

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Executive Vice President Ann Taylor speaks to the crowd gathered at the CACVB's annual tourism award ceremony. Photo: Laura Ingles Thomas Jefferson Foundation Executive Vice President Ann Taylor speaks to the crowd gathered at the CACVB’s annual tourism award ceremony. Photo: Laura Ingles

A crowd of about 100 gathered at Trump Winery yesterday evening to wine and dine, enjoy the view of the vineyard, and watch the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CACVB) present the annual Tourism Achievement Award.

Executive Director Kurt Burkhart presented the top honor to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF), for its Presidents Passport program, which partners with Montpelier, the CACVB, and the Virginia Travel Corporation to increase awareness of and visitation to presidential landmarks in Virginia.

Formerly known as the Tourism Person of the Year Award, the title recognizes a group or individual that stands out as a leader in supporting and improving tourism in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area.

This is the second year running the award has gone to an organization rather than an individual, and Burkhart said TJF exemplified the spirit of partnership and collaboration that is essential in tourism.

“We’ve got to be looking at other entities that are doing something special for tourists,” he said. “It’s not always going to be a person.”

Destination Marketing Association International Senior Vice President of Membership and Operations Karen Gonzales, who’s been in the tourism industry for 20 years, made her first trip to Charlottesville for the event.

“Anybody can stay in a hotel, anybody can go to a convention center,” Gonzales said. “But it’s how the destination will meet their market. I definitely plan on coming back.”

The CACVB also presented the New Horizons Award to the Piedmont Council for the Arts, recognizing the group for its development of the cultural program Create Charlottesville. The Bureau also handed out awards to individual people who work in tourism:

  • Audrey Jeffries, best server, Fellini’s No. 9

  • Angelo Vangelopoulos, best chef, The Ivy Inn Restaurant

  • KarenMarie “Katie” Beazley, best customer service in attractions, Charlottesville Parking Center

  • William “Bill” Kerr, best customer service in transportation services, Camryn Limousine Service

  • Joyce Kaswandik, best customer service in lodging, Guesthouse Reservation Service