The Convention & Visitors Bureau announced today the individuals and businesses to be honored at the 2022 Salute to Travel & Tourism Awards Banquet on Feb. 18.

  • The Pinnacle Award for individuals who have been active in the travel industry for many years and made substantial contributions to the betterment of the Springfield area’s travel industry will go to Gary Ellison, owner of Gary Ellison Productions, a marketing and public relations agency in Springfield. Ellison has supported the tourism industry in numerous ways, including serving on boards of tourism-related entities, serving on the 1996 Mayor’s commission on Travel and Tourism, writing articles about travel to Springfield for “Show-Me Missouri” magazine and more.
  • The Diplomat Award will go to Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council. This award is presented to a government official, organization or employee who has provided significant support to the Springfield area travel industry. Forrester was selected for her leadership in bringing arts-related festivals and exhibits to the city.
  • The Ambassador Award that goes to individuals or organizations that generated significant economic impact for the area by working to encourage tourism or secure a major convention or event in Springfield will go to two individuals in 2022. One will be presented to Fred Spaulding, a military reunion planner who has brought dozens of groups to Springfield. The other will go to Pam Prentice, who has more than 20 years experience as a hotel general manager in Springfield.
  • The Spotlight Award is presented to an individual, business or organization not usually considered part of the travel and tourism industry for noteworthy contributions in advancing travel and tourism in the Springfield area. The award will go to Trailspring for its trail development and the Singletrack Mind Festival that have helped grow the local tourism economy.
  • The Hospitality Award will go to the Big Shots Golf. This award is presented to an attraction, lodging facility or restaurant which demonstrates outstanding hospitality to the traveling public and exhibits a team spirit in promoting the growth of Springfield area travel and tourism. Big Shots is being recognized for bringing a new experience-driven attraction to the market.

Tickets are on sale for the awards banquet and can be purchased at Cost is $60 per person or $450 for a table of eight. The event begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at the White River Conference Center. Proceeds will go to the Springfield Regional Arts Council.

For a list of all previous award recipients, click here. Award recipients are selected by the executive committee of the CVB board of directors.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit marketing agency dedicated to improving the local economy through growth in travel and tourism. Call 417-881-5300 for more information.