Nominations sought for the 2017 North Dakota Governor’s Awards for Travel and Tourism

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Governor Doug Burgum’s office, North Dakota Tourism and The Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota (DMAND) are pleased to announce nominations are now being sought for the 2017 North Dakota Governor's Awards for Travel and Tourism. The awards will be presented during the North Dakota Travel Conference, to be held April 17-19 at the Radisson Hotel in Bismarck.                              

The Governor’s Awards for Travel and Tourism recognize the passion and dedication of North Dakotans who have contributed to the growth of Travel and Tourism, our state’s third-largest industry. The 2017 awards include new awards that were developed in collaboration with Gov. Burgum’s team, which believes gratitude is foundational. 

“I’ve personally experienced the power of gratitude,” Gov. Burgum said. “I’ve watched it change outcomes, organizations and lives. More than 42,000 North Dakotans work hard every day in our tourism industry, often making the first impression of our state on visitors. These awards allow us to thank some of our state’s best ambassadors and celebrate visitor experiences that add vibrancy to our communities." 

Nominations are open for the following awards:

Heritage Award for a Front-line Tourism Employee: In North Dakota we share a friendliness that helps define who we are. This heritage of hospitality is based on our values and true interest in helping visitors discover our state. Employers recognizing an individual who provides outstanding customer service to visitors on a daily basis should make nominations for this award. This person could be employed in any area of the travel/tourism and hospitality industry, including lodging, resort, restaurant, casino, gas station, retail, recreation, etc.

Sakakawea Award for Behind the Scenes Tourism Employee: Named for the Shoshone wife of Charbonneau, who was hired to assist Lewis and Clark through the Louisiana Purchase, the Sakakawea award celebrates the young woman whose work behind the scenes allowed for the journey to be successful and others today who share her spirit and commitment to helping others enjoy their journeys. Nominations should be made by employers, recognizing an individual who provides outstanding service behind the scenes in tourism-related businesses. Examples would be housekeeping staff, cooks, administrative positions and website designers. This person could be employed in any area of the travel/tourism and hospitality industry, including lodging, resort, restaurant, casino, gas station, retail, recreation, etc.

The Legend Award for Travel & Tourism Industry Leadership: Our state’s brand was built on the rich stories of historical legends like Lewis and Clark and Theodore Roosevelt and also represents today’s legends like Carson Wentz. These stories continue to engage visitors in authentic ways that help set North Dakota apart. The Legend Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated legendary leadership in the tourism industry statewide and beyond. This individual's long-term leadership in the areas of tourism development must be proven by a significant impact on a tourism business or local economic development effort. Leadership should be demonstrated in multiple areas: tourism policy formation, advocacy, collaboration and participation in industry events and associations. This award may be given to a former recipient if dramatic changes have happened to their destination, attraction or event since the award was last received a minimum of 10 years prior.

Telegraph Award for Marketing Technology: Modern communication began with a simple system of dots and dashes that provided an important service to many. Samuel Morse could never have imagined Twitter or Uber, but the base was built and today’s technology provides the opportunity for North Dakota to market and be considered along with destinations around the globe. This award is given to a tourism entity with creative use of social media platforms, websites, applications or data-driven consumer marketing that has resulted in increased awareness, image and visitation. This award can be given to an individual, agency or DMO showing leadership in using technology.

Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation: North Dakota history is full of leaders who blazed trails across our state, from oxcarts to today’s mountain bikes. This award acknowledges the spirit of perseverance and creativity in developing unique North Dakota offerings and is given to an attraction, event, person, group, company or organization that has been innovative in improving visitor experiences in North Dakota. This could include private-public partnerships, collaboration between entities, creating unique packages, engaging community members, etc.

Flint Firestarter Award for a Tourism Development Project: For more than 11,000 years, Native Americans mined flint and used it to make tools, sharpen edges and to trade for other needed goods. Knife River flint, found in western North Dakota, was the best quality and more valuable than gold. Today, flint is still used to start fires, which is representative of our new tourism development award. This award recognizes a new tourism offering that has opened in a downtown district that has the potential to attract visitors and enhance the main street experience by offering improved amenities and sparking future development in the core of a community.

Nominations will be accepted until March 29, 2017. Awards will be presented April 19 at the Governor's Luncheon during the annual North Dakota Travel Industry Conference. To view the criteria and/or submit nominations, simply go to