CRVA Partners in Tourism Award Winners Announced

January 23, 2019

CRVA Partners in Tourism Award Winners Announced
Outstanding individuals and organizations in hospitality and tourism industry recognized

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2019) – The CRVA announced the winners of the 13th 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 celebrate the Charlotte region's businesses and individuals that make unparalleled strides to strengthen our thriving visitor economy,” said CRVA Director of Partnership Kamin Brennan. “Our partners help to curate unique experiences for our city's visitors that make every trip special. Thanks in no small part to these efforts, Charlotte has seen continued growth each year in visitor spending."

Visitors spend $5.4 billion annually in Mecklenburg County and $7 billion regionally. One in every nine people employed in Charlotte works in the hospitality and leisure sector. There are more than 136,300 jobs in the hospitality and leisure sector with visitor spending directly supporting 66,300 of those jobs. The tourism tax revenues produced in Charlotte save each Mecklenburg County resident $360 in taxes annually.*

For the last 13 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 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 third 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:

Hospitality Unsung Hero: Ja’nese Stradford, Refresh Assistant Manager, Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne 

Hospitality Unsung Hero: Gladys Hernandez, Housekeeper, The Duke Mansion

Outstanding Ambassador: Chef Ron Ahlert, Executive Director, Community Culinary School of Charlotte

Hospitality Professional of the Year: Erin Dennis, Sales & Events Coordinator, Hampton Inn & Suites South Park at Phillips Place

Attraction of the Year: Topgolf Charlotte

Full-service Hotel of the Year: Crowne Plaza Charlotte Executive Park

Nightlife/Entertainment Venue of the Year: Queen Park Social

Restaurant of the Year: Haberdish

Retailer of the Year: Charlotte Premium Outlets

Select-service Hotel of the Year: Hampton Inn Charlotte Uptown / Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte Uptown

Service Provider of the Year: Key Signature Entertainment

Destination Impact Award: Joan Zimmerman, CEO, Southern Shows Inc

Learn more about the CRVA partnership program at


*Source: Longwoods International Study # Source: Annual study conducted by U.S. Travel Association ^ Source: U.S. Labor of Statistics

About the 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. For more information, visit