Visit Buffalo Niagara Presents Travel & Tourism Beacon Awards

September 27, 2013 Updated May 10, 2012 at 6:46 PM EDT

By WKBW News


Visit Buffalo Niagara Board Chairman Dennis Murphy, left, and President and CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, right, present National Buffalo Wing Festival Founder Drew Cerza with the Travel and Tourism Beacon Award for Tourism Executive of the Year.

September 27, 2013 Updated May 10, 2012 at 6:46 PM EDT

Buffalo (WKBW release) -- Visit Buffalo Niagara held its second annual Travel & Tourism Beacon Awards Luncheon at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on Thursday.

According to a news release:

The event recognized superior service throughout the industry, from volunteer docents to hotel general managers. Approximately 400 guests were in attendance.

The following awards were presented:

Lodging Employee of the Year
Michael Hicks, Comfort Suites Downtown

Lodging Manager of the Year
Kevin Hudson, Hyatt Regency Buffalo

Lodging General Manager of the Year
Shelly Cieslak, Fairfield Inn and Suites

Tourism Employee of the Year
Eric Guzdek, Northtown Center at Amherst

Tourism Executive of the Year
Drew Cerza, National Buffalo Wing Festival

Tourism Initiative of the Year
Garden Walk Buffalo

Tourism Volunteer of the Year
Linda Adams, Darwin Martin House Complex

Buffalo Ambassadors of the Year
National Preservation Conference Local Organizing Committee
•    Catherine Schweitzer, Co-Chair
•    Robert Skerker, Co-Chair
•    George Arthur
•    Sarah Gelman Carney
•    Maura Cohen
•    Liz Dann
•    Holly Donaldson
•    Cindy & Paul Gorski
•    Geri Kozlowski
•    Henry McCartney
•    Blythe Merrill
•    Kerry Mitchell
•    Mary Roberts
•    Bernie Tolbert
•    Steve Weiss
•    Tom & Louise Yots

The luncheon featured the induction of the late Meet the Press moderator and consummate Buffalo booster Tim Russert into the Buffalo Ambassador Hall of Fame. Luke Russert, Tim’s son and NBC correspondent, accepted on his father’s behalf in a taped video presentation. Going forward, the Hall of Fame award will be named after Russert.

The event also served as a celebration for National Travel & Tourism Week, which began on May 5 and runs through May 13.

The Beacon Awards are modeled after the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association (NYSHTA)’s Stars of the Industry Awards.