During Southeast Tourism Society’s Connections Conference in Jackson, Mississippi, this September, North Little Rock Tourism received the prestigious Shining Example Award from the Southeast Tourism Society for “Tourism Office of the Year.” Heather Kouns, Director of Tourism Development, also received the Rising Star Award.
“We are honored to be recognized by our industry peers for our hard work in 2022,” said Karen Trevino, President & CEO of North Little Rock Tourism.
The Shining Example Awards were presented on September 27, 2023, during Southeast Tourism Society’s annual Connections conference. Each year leaders in tourism are chosen by a selection committee to receive these prestigious awards for their accomplishments in tourism marketing, revenue growth and individual contributions to the industry. Thirteen awards were presented in 12 categories, including the Chairman’s Award and the Dorothy Hardman “Spirit of STS” Award.
North Little Rock Tourism was recognized as Tourism Office of the Year due to its successful efforts to secure visitors, improve visitor experience and develop tourism product in 2023. 2023 highlights included:
- $5.35 million in estimated economic impact due to North Little Rock Tourism sales efforts;
- hosting 26,500 event attendees at Argenta Plaza;
- $3.8 million of the prepared food tax donated to North Little Rock Parks & Recreation for projects such as Big Rock Quarry Bike Park;
- Launch of North Little Rock’s Setting the Table Culinary Initiative to understand, address, connect and improve North Little Rock’s culinary scene;
- $779,500 estimated local economic impact from Downtown Riverside RV Park;
- Helped plan and promote the successful return of the North Little Rock Airshow;
- 224.7 million estimated reach from media outreach efforts, and
- more than 15,600 partner online referrals.
Kouns received the Rising Star Award for leading North Little Rock’s Setting the Table Culinary Initiative and overseeing the Downtown Riverside RV Park.
“I am blessed to be in an industry I am passionate about and with an organization that supports me to the fullest,” Kouns said. “This really is an award for all my coworkers because without them I would not have been able to accomplish so much in North Little Rock.”
During the conference, Trevino and Tourism Project Manager Shelbey Morris earned their Tourism Marketing Professional (TMP) certifications. Trevino was also named Chair of Southeast Tourism Society’s Executive Committee.