Missouri Honors Tourism Industry Leaders

A former Missouri legislator and director of the Missouri Division of Tourism was honored Wednesday for a distinguished career in the tourism industry.

During an awards banquet at the 47th Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the Missouri Tourism Commission and Missouri Division of Tourism inducted Katie Steele Danner into the Missouri Tourism Hall of Fame.

The event was held Oct. 14 at The Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark.

Hall of Fame induction is tourism’s highest honor, given annually to someone who has supported and made outstanding contributions to Missouri’s tourism industry for at least 10 years, while leaving a lasting, positive impression on the state’s economy.

Danner was acknowledged for a range of tourism-related activities. While serving the Second Legislative District in the Missouri House of Representatives (1989-94) Danner was active on several committees, including the Tourism, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee.

Danner and her husband, Major General Steve Danner, the adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, owned and operated the Wildwood Resort in Kimberling City for several years. Through her firm Athena Consulting, Katie Danner worked with several tourism-related businesses, including the League of Branson Theatre Owners and Show Producers.

From 2009-15, Danner was director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. Under her stewardship, the division streamlined its cooperative marketing program, formed partnerships with organizations such as Brand USA and Travel South and revitalized the Missouri Film Office. She also led an effort that created the Division’s Enjoy the Show brand and campaign, which launched in spring 2013.

During the awards ceremony:

  • Missouri Rep. Lincoln Hough was honored with the Senator Emory Melton Legislative Award, presented annually to a legislator or tourism industry leader who works closely with the legislative process in support of the tourism industry. Hough has long been supportive of funding for the Missouri Division of Tourism and was recognized for his work to maintain tourism funding in 2012 – thereby preserving the Division’s cooperative marketing program – and for voting to add additional funds to tourism’s budget in 2015.
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, earned the Marketing Campaign Award, given for effective integrated marketing efforts. Nelson-Atkins was recognized for a far-reaching marketing campaign that combined print, outdoor, social media, television and radio to promote a special exhibition entitled The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.
  • The Navigator Media Award was presented to Rural Missouri magazine, Jefferson City.The award is given annually to the outlet whose efforts promote tourism by telling stories that shine a positive light on the Show-Me State’s tourism assets and destinations. Each month, the team at Rural Missouri showcases great dining locations, businesses and points of interest that help drive travel in and around the state.
  • Missouri State Penitentiary Tours, Jefferson City, won the Spotlight Award, presented for noteworthy contributions in spotlighting tourism. Since tours at the prison began in 2009, more than 100,000 visitors from across the globe have toured this interesting piece of Missouri’s history. Additionally, MSP has attracted the attention of national TV programs, including “American Pickers” and “Ghost Hunters.”
  • The Pathfinder Award went to Angela da Silva, St. Louis. The award honors those who aim for and successfully reach niche markets. As a professor at Lindenwood University, da Silva is in the unique position to reach young adults and teach them more about Missouri’s history. Among her offerings is a class on Missouri Heritage, which gives students the chance to visit communities such as Arrow Rock and Boonville.
  • Greater Chillicothe Visitors Region Director Amy Supple was presented with the Ambassador Award, which acknowledges individuals who support tourism initiatives and bring publicity to attractions across the state. Although her work focuses on promoting Chillicothe, known to many as “the home of sliced bread,” Supple is an active member of the Missouri Route 36 Heritage Alliance. The Alliance is made up of partner communities along Highway 36 and focuses on increasing visitation to and awareness of these areas of northern Missouri.
  • The Innovator Award was given to the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show. The Innovator Award is presented to tourism entities that achieve great results with limited budgets. When the Air Show began five years ago, organizers expected about 1,000 spectators. That first year’s event drew more than 4,500. Since then, support for the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show has grown and it welcomed more than 14,000 attendees last year, making it the most-attended single-day event in Camden County.

The Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism features educational workshops and noted guest speakers who address a variety of topics related to the tourism industry. More than 200 people attended this year’s event at The Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark.

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Tracy Kimberlin is the President & CEO of the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau

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