The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Inc. honored seven local individuals and businesses with Chrysalis Awards at the first annual Celebration of Business & Tourism Awards Luncheon and Trade Show this week at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers.
The honorees in seven categories who were celebrated for their positive impact on the local community were:
Business Development: Gartner Inc.
Eco-Innovation: Society for Ethical Ecotourism Florida
Cultural Achievement: Edison & Ford Winter Estates
Education: Florida Gulf Coast University Resort & Hospitality Program
Sports MVP: Roy Hobbs Diamond Enterprises LLC
Sales & Marketing: ArtFest Fort Myers
Junonia Award: Steve and Doris Colgate, Offshore Sailing School
Any local business could nominate itself or others for a Chrysalis Award, regardless of whether the nominees are directly a part of the tourism industry.
The 60 nominees included area attractions, accommodations, retailers, educational institutions, arts and cultural organizations, transportation companies, and other local businesses in six categories. The new awards are designed to foster a stronger alliance between the tourism industry and the county's business community.
The seventh award category, the VCB's long-standing Junonia Award, was created in 2006 to recognize individuals who have positively impacted the local tourism community by demonstrating unique capabilities, leadership, commitment, and dedication.
Chrysalis Award nominees were judged on innovation in their respective category, how they have distinguished themselves in the community, the results of their efforts to promote the destination, their contributions to business and tourism partnerships for the overall benefit of the county, and their work to foster growth and sustainability. Honorees were recognized for their commitment to excellence in improving community growth, creating job opportunities for the citizens of Lee County, and encouraging more vacationers to the destination.
The trade show and luncheon, both sponsored by the Hotel Indigo and the Butterfly Estates, celebrated the value of tourism and the community teamwork involved in maintaining and enhancing tourism as a major economic engine for the county. It was held to commemorate National Travel and Tourism Week as part of the VCB's year-round Team Tourism informational program to strengthen destination teamwork.
Tourism contributes $2.6 billion to the local economy and employs nearly one in four Lee County residents.