May 9, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterA room full of Fremont County businesses and organizations received recognition for their contributions to Wyoming's tourism industry during an awards ceremony Tuesday.
In celebration of the National Travel and Tourism week, the Wind River Visitors Council and the Wyoming Office of Tourism presented the Wind River Country Tourism Awards and the statewide REACH awards Tuesday at the Wind River Hotel and Casino. Nominations were submitted for consideration by a selection committee. Tourists and community members wrote letters explaining how businesses or individuals served them during their visit to Wyoming.
Wyoming Office of Tourism visitor services manager Shannon Stanfill said the number of entries received this year were double the amount received last year. This is the third year for the awards ceremony.
The Tourism Employee of the Year award went to Buck Draney of CM Ranch in Dubois, which offers horseback riding, fishing, hiking, pack trips, rodeos and cookouts to tourists.
The Tourism Partner of the Year award was given to Suzan Moutlon of the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, who in return thanked the big horn sheep.
"Thank you, sheep, you do a great job," Moutlon said.
The center educates the public about the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and their habitats while encouraging the public's involvement in wildlife and wildlands.
The Tourism Destination of the Year award was given to Miner's Delight Inn Bed and Breakfast in Atlantic City. The Wind River Hotel and Casino received the Tourism Organization of the Year award and was recognized for being the largest employer in the county -- with more than 700 employees.
Diane Shober, director at the Wyoming Office of Tourism, presented Rich and Ryan Grout from AutoTech in Jackson Hole with the Customer Service Employee of the Year award. Shober read part of the letter written by a family whose vehicle had mechanical problems in the evening of July 4 and didn't have any place to stay and received no help from another nearby auto shop. Shober said the father and son from AutoTech halted their holiday celebrations to drive the family to a nearby hotel and fix their vehicle.
Cody Beers of the Wyoming Department of Transportation accepted the Industry Partner of the Year award.
Jim and Mary Allen of Allen's Diamond 4 Ranch in Lander received the Customer Service Organization of the Year award. Shober said the number of letters they received nominating the ranch weighed about 5 pounds.
Shober said the state benefited from $3.1 billion spent by visitors last year.
"Families are planning their vacations here, they're calling and visiting Wyoming," Shober said. "They have gone above and beyond for their visitors. ... They have done a standout job in representing Wyoming."
The recipients thanked their employees as well.
"We recognize that it's not just tourism," Stanfill said. "There are a lot of partners involved."
Tourism spending in Fremont County
The Wind River Visitors Council submitted a proposed budget and an executive summary Tuesday to the Riverton City Council showing the tourist spending in Wyoming. In 2010, visitor spending was $128.5 million, and in 2011, it increased to $137.7 million.
Visitors to Fremont County spent the following in 2011:
- $18.9 million on lodging
- $35.7 million on food service and food stores
- $41 million on local transportation and gas
- $20.9 million on arts, entertainment and recreation
- $18.9 million on retail sales
- $800,000 on airplane transportation
"This means that for every $1 a traveler spent on lodging in our communities, they spent another $6 on other travel-related services and retail shopping," reads the summary. "In 2011, Fremont County ranked eighth out of the 23 counties in the state in travel spending in our visitor industry."
The summary further explains that about 1,560 direct tourism jobs, accounting for $42 million in direct earnings, have been created in the county to keep up with the growing tourism.
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