Visit Vancouver USA has presented the 2019 Spirit of Tourism Award to Kim Bennett, who recently retired after leading the agency for 20 years.
The award is given annually to a business, person, attraction, venue or event that has contributed to the region’s economic vitality by attracting visitors to Vancouver and Clark County.
The 7.3-acre Vancouver Waterfront Park was the 2018 recipient, and the American Empress received the award in 2017.
“Kim more than meets the criteria for this award,” Michelle McKenzie, Visit Vancouver USA marketing director, said in a news release. “We are honored to be able to give it to her as a token of appreciation and recognition for all that she has done for the community.”
Shortly after Bennett helped form the tourism office, visitor spending in the area represented $273.5 million in economic impact. By 2018, the most recent numbers available, visitor spending ballooned to $585 million, a 114 percent increase in less than 20 years. During her tenure, Bennett also grew the Visit Vancouver USA staff from a single employee to the current team of nine.
“Kim was instrumental in growing both leisure visitation and group business in Vancouver during the past 20 years,” Mike McLeod, chairman of the Visit Vancouver USA Board of Directors, said in a news release. “I can think of no person or entity more deserving of the 2019 Spirit of Tourism Award.”
In addition to spearheading tourism development, Bennett represented the office in statewide marketing efforts and prominent industry associations, buoying Vancouver’s profile as a destination. Her involvement in the local and regional communities and the state has been influential in building a favorable reputation for the area.
More information about Visit Vancouver USA and the tourism industry is available online at www.VisitVancouverUSA.com.