The Visit Champaign County Foundation will celebrate the hospitality industry, alongside stakeholders and partners at the 8th Annual Toast to Tourism, July 28 from 5:00–7:00 p.m. at the Venue CU. During the event, the foundation will honor five trailblazers with Tourism Impact Awards for their contributions in making the greater Champaign County area a better place to live, work, and visit.
The 2021 Tourism Impact award winners include: Alven Allison and Isis Griffin, CBPB Popcorn Shop; Luke Humphrey and Mayor Charles Smith, Rantoul Family Sports Complex; Matt Kuntz, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve; Armando Sandoval and Adam Lopez, Maize Mexican Grill; and Marie DiBello, the first Director of the then Champaign-Urbana Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Following an extremely challenging year for the hospitality industry, we are thrilled to honor those that have shown innovation and resiliency in order to improve quality of life for our residents and visitors,” states Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “Prior to the pandemic, the greater Champaign County area saw the highest growth in visitor spending, and we anticipate quickly becoming a leader once again thanks to the contributions of the remarkable individuals in this industry.”
In addition to the awards presentation, DeLuce will reflect on the past year and look toward the future as Visit Champaign County continues to promote the greater Champaign County area as a destination to live, work, and visit. Also presenting will be Karla Flannery, Deputy Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, who will share updates on the state’s marketing efforts following the pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, the greater Champaign County area celebrated significant increases to jobs created, and local taxes generated that are invested back into the community. During the past 17 months, it became clear that the significant losses to the hospitality industry were detrimental not only to the revenue generated for the community, but to the overall quality of life for residents. “We saw how bleak life could become without the many events, attractions, and local businesses that we enjoy in our community,” explains DeLuce. “Despite these hardships, our local businesses and residents rallied, providing unprecedented support for each other, and that needs to be celebrated.”
For more information on Toast to Tourism, go to visitchampaigncounty.org/toasttotourism or contact Terri Reifsteck at Visit Champaign County.