CRVA Partners in Tourism Award Winners Announced

January 24, 2018

Outstanding individuals and organizations in hospitality and tourism industry recognized

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 24, 2018) – The CRVA announced the winners of the 12th Annual Partners in Tourism Awards sponsored by Carowinds today at an awards breakfast and ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center. Charlotte’s top hospitality and tourism professionals were in attendance to recognize the front-line individuals and organizations that directly impact tourism in the Charlotte region. 

“The Partners in Tourism Awards celebrates both businesses and individuals that make unparalleled strides to strengthen our thriving visitor economy,” said CRVA Director of Partnership Kamin Brennan. “Whether it is an individual's first time visiting or they regularly travel to our city, partners in the hospitality industry are on the front lines delivering meaningful experiences that shape visitor perceptions of Charlotte. Because of their impact, the Charlotte region has continued to see year-over-year growth in visitor spending.”

Visitors spend $5.2 billion annually in Mecklenburg County and $6.7 billion regionally. One in every nine people employed in Charlotte works in the hospitality and leisure sector. There are more than 131,000 jobs in the hospitality and leisure sector with visitor spending directly supporting 64,500 of those jobs. The tourism tax revenues produced in Charlotte save each Mecklenburg County resident $349 in taxes annually.*

For more than 10 years, the CRVA has held the Partners in Tourism Awards to celebrate exceptional contributions to Charlotte tourism. Winners were nominated by CRVA employees and partners. Individual honors given at the event included: the Local Champions Awards, which recognize individuals who have been instrumental in collaborating with the CRVA’s teams to bring meetings, conventions and sporting events to the city; the Hospitality Unsung Hero Award, which recognizes an individual who often serves in the back of the house and may not always be seen, but his or her contributions and commitment can be felt everywhere in the business; the Outstanding Ambassador Award, which recognizes an individual who typically works in the front of the house and is considered the face of outstanding customer service; and the Hospitality Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes a respected leader who is engaged in the community and is an advocate for the advancement of the hospitality industry, garnering great respect among his or fellow employees, colleagues and customers. Business awards categories included Attraction of the Year, Full-service Hotel of the Year, Nightlife/Entertainment Venue of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Retailer of the Year, Select-service Hotel of the Year and Service Provider of the Year.

And for the second year is the Destination Impact Award. This award goes to a person who is a powerhouse for the regional tourism industry and visitor economy. This person’s fingerprints can be seen all over the community, with contributions creating ripple effects across our destination—from supporting thousands of jobs to providing unmatched entertainment for both visitors and residents and producing worldwide exposure. The commitment this person has shown to our region inspires vision, sparks curiosity and innovation, and supports its success for years to come.   

This Year’s Partners in Tourism Award winners are:

Destination Impact: O. Bruton Smith, Executive Chairman, Speedway Motorsports, Inc.


Local Champions: North Carolina and South Carolina State Chapters of the P.E.O. Sisterhood,
City of Charlotte, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA)


Hospitality Unsung Hero: Patricia Faye Dunlap, Laundry Supervisor, Hilton Charlotte University Place


Outstanding Ambassador: Erika Bauchrowitz Howay, Assistant General Manager, Sheraton Charlotte Hotel and Le Méridien Charlotte


Hospitality Professional of the Year: John Beatty, General Manager, The Dunhill Hotel + The Asbury


Attraction of the Year: U.S. National Whitewater Center


Full-service Hotel of the Year: The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge


Nightlife/Entertainment Venue of the Year: Ink N Ivy


Restaurant of the Year: The Asbury


Retailer of the Year: SouthPark Mall


Select-service Hotel of the Year: The Duke Mansion


Service Provider of the Year: Queen City Catering


Photos from the awards ceremony can be found here.

Learn more about the CRVA partnership program at

South Carolina data reflects 2015 research provided by South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT).
The Average MSA Tax Savings per Resident is calculated by taking the total state and local tax collections for the 10 counties in the MSA and dividing it by total population of those 10 counties (2,454,856 according to the 2016 Population Estimates from the U.S. Census). 

About Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) works to deliver experiences that uniquely enrich the lives of our visitors and residents. Through leadership in destination development, marketing and venue management expertise, the CRVA leads efforts to maximize the region’s economic potential through visitor spending, creating jobs and opportunities for the community. Brands supported by the CRVA include the Charlotte Convention Center, Spectrum Center, Bojangles’ Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Regional Film Commission and Visit Charlotte in conjunction with the region’s destination marketing brand, ‘Charlotte’s got a lot.' For more information, visit