Tourism Agencies Announce Annual Awards
Tourism is a more than $8 billion industry in the State of Iowa, generating $351.7 million in Black Hawk County and employing 2,900 residents. Black Hawk County ranks among Iowa’s top five counties for tourism impact.
May is National Tourism Month and as part of the celebration, the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau and Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau recognize and honor local attractions and tourism-related businesses at the annual Cedar Valley Tourism Awards. The 2017 Awards were held Thursday, May 11 at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum.
“For thirteen years, we have had the opportunity to honor the businesses, organizations and people who work to make visiting our communities an incredible experience,” said Aaron Buzza, Executive Director of the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Honorees were selected through a public nomination process. A committee comprised of tourism businesspeople reviewed and scored the nominations. The second-highest scoring nominee in each category was placed on an online ballot to determine the People’s Choice Award. “We are pleased with the number and quality of the nominations this year, and appreciate the committee and public voters in helping select the honorees,” said Kim Manning, manager of the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau.
Bryan’s on 4th was named the Best Restaurant. Nominations noted the restaurant’s compliment to others in the area, the addition of nightly entertainment, the atmosphere, and the outstanding food and beverage selections.
The Outstanding Lodging Establishment award was presented to Waterloo/Lost Island Waterpark KOA. Nominations highlighted the campground receiving the Founder’s Award for two consecutive years. Additionally, the special events, addition of new cabins, and the popularity of the campground with visitors from around the country were part of the nominations.
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum was honored in the Outstanding Event/Attraction category. The Museum welcomed nearly 25,000 people in 2016, with those visitors coming to Waterloo from all 50 states and 37 foreign countries. The Museum is a “must see” for collectors and members of the Tractor Community, and the recent move to have the Museum open seven days a week and with free admission was a major highlight of the nomination.
The Best Customer Service award honored Wendy Wilson, Customer Service Manager at the Waterloo Regional Airport. Wendy has been recognized by many who fly to and from Waterloo as a Travel Hero for saving them time, for rebooking flights and for joyfully welcoming passengers with a friendly face and greeting.
The Cedar Valley People’s Choice Award was presented to the Cedar Valley SportsPlex. In 2016 the SportsPlex welcomed 12 youth sports tournaments, the Primetime Basketball league and the Cedar Valley Court Kings. These special events, in addition to serving its members and the community, were highlights of the nomination.
Other special honors were presented to Cedar Falls Community Main Street as Cedar Falls Friend of Tourism and Black Hawk County Gaming Association as Waterloo Friend of Tourism. Community Main Street was recognized for its thirty years of events and business development in Cedar Falls. Black Hawk County Gaming was honored for the contributions to tourism-related projects in Waterloo, including the Grout Museum District, Cedar Valley SportsPlex, and Bryrnes Park.