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Rita McClenny, Richmond Raceway honored for contributions to region’s tourism and economy

“After two of the most challenging years in our industry, the Richmond Region continues to thrive and remains a top travel destination for visitors across the country,” said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism.

Trevor Dickerson

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Richmond Region Tourism recently recognized individuals and organizations for their work to support the hospitality community during its Tourism Awards and Annual Meeting.

Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation, was honored with the Chairman’s Award, given to a person or organization who has made the greatest contribution during the previous year. Under McClenney’s leadership, tourism has flourished and grown in the state. She also helped secure important federal dollars to help the tourism industry recover during the pandemic.

The Richmond Raceway received the Tourism Impact Award, one of the highest honors given each year. Serving as a mass vaccination hub in the region, the Richmond Raceway collaborated with partners to vaccinate thousands of people in the community. The site helped the region reopen safely to visitors.

Richmond Region Tourism also announced the following awards:

  • Customer Service Award: Candice “Candy” Banks, Executive Administrator to the Director and Chief Executive Officer at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  • Rising Star Award presented by Shamin Hotels: Allison Smith-Mackey, MBA, Owner of Pop of Confetti
  • Tourism Leadership Award: Owen Matthew, Corporate Director, Operational Accounting at Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
  • Restaurant Partner of the Year presented by Korbel: Lillie Pearl, Chef Michael Lindsey and Kimberly-Love Lindsey, Co-owners
  • Attraction Partner of the Year presented by Richmond Raceway: Walking the Ward with Gary Flowers, Gary Flowers, Owner/Operator
  • Dedicated Partner of the Year: WTVR, CBS 6, Stephen Hayes, General Manager
  • MVP Sports Award: Adam Kennedy, Executive Director of SwimRVA
  • Unsung Tourism Hero: James Millner, Program Director of Virginia Pride
  • Hotel Partner of the Year presented by The 288 Group: Hampton Inn & Suites Richmond/Virginia Center and Tru by Hilton Nancy Coggins, Director of Sales
  • Tourism Event: Down Home Family Reunion, A Celebration of African American Folklife, Janine Yvette Bell President & Artistic Director Elegba Folklore Society

“After two of the most challenging years in our industry, the Richmond Region continues to thrive and remains a top travel destination for visitors across the country,” said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. “Every day, our tourism community supports our economy and businesses, and improves our quality of life. We’re thankful for this year’s award recipients for their commitment to helping the local hospitality industry recover and comeback stronger.”

Proceeds from the Tourism Awards and Annual Meeting benefit the Richmond Region Tourism Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Richmond Region Tourism aimed at advancing the local hospitality industry by supporting and investing in local education, diversity and inclusion and sports tourism programs.

The Foundation awards four annual $1,000 scholarships to students pursuing a career in the tourism and hospitality industry.

This year’s winners from Virginia State University’s Hospitality Management program included:

  • Morgan Best
  • Mariah Darden
  • Prince Harris
  • Kiara Parker

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.