Knoxville, TN – The Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association (TnHTA) honored the industry all-stars from across the state at the annual “Stars of the Industry” awards gala this week in Murfreesboro, TN. Visit Knoxville was honored to receive Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) of the year.

Visit Knoxville President, Kim Bumpas stated, “This is a huge honor for our organization. It is the first award of its kind that we’ve received and speaks volumes not only about the Visit Knoxville team but the destination we market every day. Exciting things are happening in Knoxville. The fact that a number of our Knoxville tourism partners were also recognized as Stars of the Industry simply proves the point.”

The “Stars of the Industry” awards are presented to individuals, companies, and industry partners whose commitment to hospitality and tourism has improved the overall industry statewide and has allowed the industry to ‘wow’ guests on a daily basis.

Additional state winners from Knoxville include:

Tourism General Manager of the Year:
Dana Hart, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Restaurant General Manager of the Year (independent):
Mahasti Vafaie, The Tomato Head

Restaurant Manager of the Year (chain):
Toby Winters, Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants

Women in Hospitality and Tourism Leader of the Year:
Jill Thompson, Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association (GKHA)

Tourism Manager of the Year (large market):
Kelli Gibson, Visit Knoxville

For a full list of winners, including additional East Tennessee winners Tennessee Smokies Baseball (Attraction of the Year) and PepsiCo’s Donald Tatum (Preferred Vendor of the Year), please reference the list issued by TnHTA in their media release dated August 5.

Hospitality and tourism make up the state’s second largest industry,” said TnHTA Chairman Ken Maples. “The individuals and companies we honor with these awards are the driving force behind that success. They provide the top-notch guest service that keeps people coming back to Tennessee. The winners were selected to receive these honors by people who truly understand the level of commitment that is required to provide excellent service to customers on a daily basis – their peers. We’re honored to have them as part of our membership, and we congratulate them on a job well done!”

Visit Knoxville (Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau) is the official CVB for the City of Knoxville and Knox County. Visit Knoxville is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, private company that works together with the community, business leaders and local and state government to further develop Knoxville as a premier leisure, meetings and travel destination.

The Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association is the voice of the lodging, dining, and tourism industry in the state of Tennessee. TnHTA provides education and training for industry employees and represents the interests of the hospitality and tourism industry at the local, state and national levels. The hospitality and tourism industry is the second largest in Tennessee, producing 146,200 jobs and an annual economic impact in excess of $16.6 billion. Learn more about TnHTA at