Tourism Industry Recognized at 2020 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Release Date

Kathleen Achtenberg
[email protected] 

  • Industry awards recognize individuals, tourism entities that exemplify best practices, impact on industry
  • Latest round of Pure Michigan Trails and Towns designations also announced
  • Conference taking place Feb. 18-20 in Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – At the 2020 annual Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, travel industry leaders tonight recognized top hospitality individuals and entities for their contributions to Michigan’s tourism industry during the Pure Michigan Awards Dinner. Also announced was the latest round of Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designations.

“This year’s best in tourism awards honor those individuals and entities that go above and beyond in making Michigan a top travel destination and truly elevate the state’s tourism industry,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “It is vital to recognize our industry partners, whose passion, dedication, and collaboration are critical to the success of travel in Michigan.”
The awards and recognitions announced tonight include:
2020 Governor’s Awards for Innovative Tourism Collaboration presented to:

  • Destination Ann Arbor for their collaboration with Washtenaw Community College to create a Workforce Development program for the hospitality and tourism industry in Ann Arbor. The collaboration also generates positive messaging about careers in the hospitality industry and helps hospitality industry employers improve their ability to attract, train and retain qualified staff members. Fourteen Destination Ann Arbor scholars began the program in September.
  • Experience Grand Rapids for their partnership with Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Public Schools and AHC + Hospitality to create a new hospitality college-career prep academy. The program is the first of its kind in the state and looks to impact the local workforce by helping to educate and create interest in hospitality careers for local high school students, especially students of color.

Presented by Dave Lorenz and Julie Pingston, immediate past president of Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan (TICOM), the Collaboration Awards are intended to promote innovative collaboration as an effective, efficient and creative operating principle for the tourism industry.
“Collaboration is vital to the tour and travel industry, and these awards highlight how partnerships can be formed, bringing increased visibility for our destinations to travelers to Michigan,” said TICOM President Darren Ing. “We’re pleased to join Travel Michigan in recognizing Destination Ann Arbor and Experience Grand Rapids for forming these innovative partnerships and working together toward a common goal.”
2020 Pure Award: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
The Pure Award is intended to recognize Michigan tourism entities that have pioneered the incorporation of innovative and exemplary best practices in natural, cultural, and/or heritage stewardship into their daily operations.
For nearly 30 years, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has worked tirelessly on conservation efforts to balance the growth of the region by permanently protecting all that makes it special: fresh, clean water, working farms, lush forests, coastal dunes, trails for hiking and biking, scenic vistas, and wildlife habitat and corridors. To date, The Conservancy has protected nearly 44,000 acres of land and more than 140 acres of shoreline along rivers, lakes, and streams.
2020 Legacy Award: Ken Hayward, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Grand Hotel
Presented by Dave Lorenz, the annual Legacy Award is given to someone in the hospital industry who has left his or her mark on the industry for a lifetime body of work.
In his role as Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Grand Hotel, Hayward oversees the overall operation of the world’s largest summer resort in addition to managing the sales, marketing, conventions and finance departments for the hotel. Hayward began his career as a sales representative for Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in 1985. He served on the Michigan Travel Commission for two terms, and while serving as chair, was instrumental in helping to craft an understanding of what is now known as the “Pure Michigan” brand. Hayward is also a board member and executive committee member of Historic Hotels of America, a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association Resort Committee, serves on the board of Michigan Retailers Association and Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, and is an active member of Meeting Professionals International. 
Pure Michigan Shining Star 2020: Jennifer Salisbury, Evergreen Resort, Cadillac
The Pure Michigan Shining Star award is given to an individual who has made a tremendous impact on the front lines of Michigan tourism. The honor is intended to discover and recognize one outstanding hospitality professional for his or her impact, dedication and service.
Salisbury was nominated by the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau and they noted that she goes above and beyond serving golf groups not only at the Evergreen Resort where she is employed, but she spreads her service to six other area courses that benefit from the groups she books, providing a consistent and personal contact. After asking for an opportunity to serve in the resorts Golf & Group Sales Manager role, Salisbury has helped to increase their golf groups more than 75% since 2017.
Pure Michigan Trails & Pure Michigan Trail Towns
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Travel Michigan, recognized the following Pure Michigan Trails and Pure Michigan Trail Towns Wednesday evening:

  • Canada Lakes Pathway in Luce County – Pure Michigan Trail
  • The historic Haywire Grade in Schoolcraft and Alger Counties – Pure Michigan Trail
  • Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties – Pure Michigan Trail
  • Cheboygan – Pure Michigan Trail Town
  • Orion Township – Pure Michigan Trail Town
  • Reed City – Pure Michigan Trail Town

The trails and towns that receive this designation are identified as among the best of the best in the state of Michigan, promoting healthy lifestyles, conserving natural resources, and providing a catalyst for economic activity in their communities. To learn more, visit here.
“Michigan is full of a variety of great trails and trail towns,” said Paul Yauk, state trail coordinator at the MDNR. “We are home to four seasons of trails. Today we draw attention to some of the best of the best trails and trail towns that provide residents with a unique experience every time they step outside.”
Tourism representatives, economic development professionals and meeting planners from across Michigan are gathered in Grand Rapids this week for the 2020 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, where they are focusing on the latest trends and changes in the industry and gaining insights on a broad array of topics.
Sessions being offered during the conference include national trends and marketing research; legislative updates, sales and marketing, and diversity in the workplace. Optional breakout sessions address topics such as placemaking, an update from the Office of Outdoor Recreation, website accessibility, how film festivals are making an impact on travel in Michigan, and more.
Michigan Cares for Tourism (MC4T) again kicked off the conference with a volunteer project. For this year’s project, MC4T rallied industry professionals to refurbish two historic buildings within Grand Rapids’ Oak Hill and Greenwood Cemeteries. The Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department is hoping to turn these underutilized spaces into functioning office space.

About the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: FacebookInstagramPinterest, and Twitter.