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Tourism Coordinator receives state-wide award

West Plains Tourism Coordinator Melissa Wharton received the Rising Star Award at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held Oct. 13 through 15 in Branson.

The award honors an individual who has worked for a tourism-related organization less than five years or who has transitioned to a new role and made significant advancements to the organization’s efforts.

During her first year, Wharton led the rebranding of West Plains tourism to “Explore West Plains,” created a new website and visitor guidebooks, and refreshed the Ozarks Heritage Welcome Center. She is focused on making the town a tourism hub in Missouri. “I am proud and honored to receive the Rising Star Award,” said Wharton. “I look forward to continue growing Explore West Plains and promoting tourism in the Ozarks.”

Other tourism award winners include:

  *   Hall of Fame: Gina Walsh, former Missouri Senator for the 13th district
  *   Marketing Campaign Award: Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
  *   Pathfinder Award: Perry County Heritage Tourism’s Christmas Country Church Tour
  *   Innovator Award: Visit Hermann
  *   Navigator Media Award: KYTV, Springfield
  *   Hospitality Award: Tim Riley, director and chief curator at America’s National Churchill Museum
  *   Legislative Award: Aaron Griesheimer, Missouri Representative for the 61st district
  *   Film Industry Champion Award: Kathryn Swan, former Missouri Representative for the 147th District

In addition to the awards presentation, the conference – hosted by the Missouri Division of Tourism – featured educational workshops and guest speakers who addressed a variety of topics relevant to the tourism industry.

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