The organizations making the biggest impact on tourism in Thurston County were recognized at an awards ceremony last week.

SPSCC Community Unity AM 2019

Experience Olympia & Beyond, the region’s visitor and convention bureau, held the Thurston County Tourism Awards ceremony during its Annual State of Tourism Meeting on May 2 at the Stampfer Retreat Center in Olympia to celebrate people who “have gone above and beyond to help bring tourism to Thurston County.”

The Port of Olympia’s new executive director, Sam Gibboney, presented the three awards, which are meant to “recognize individuals who unite the community, work tirelessly toward achieving a long-term vision or show exceptional hospitality to better the experience for visitors and tourism in Thurston County,” according to a press release.

Sandra Hall Excellence in Hospitality

The winner of the Community Unity Award, which recognized collaboration and regionalism, was South Puget Sound Community College’s Brewing & Distilling Program. “Through their efforts, they are helping to grow the region’s local brewing and distilling, while working with community partners, such as the City of Tumwater, local industry experts and developers,” the press release states. “They have brought the community together around a shared vision and passion for excellent craft products.”

Dave Nickerson, operations manager for Tumwater Valley Golf Club, won the Tourism Visionary Award, meant to recognize continuous commitment and trailblazing accomplishments. “Dave Nickerson was nominated for his instrumental help in securing the bid to host the next four years of the WIAA State Golf Championship,” the release states. “His willingness to roll out the red carpet for players and rally the community behind the tournament was evident throughout the process.”

Dave Nickerson Tourism Visionary AM 2019

Photo courtesy of Experience Olympia and Beyond

Meant to recognize a hospitality professional who consistently goes out of their way to make visitors feel special, the Excellence in Hospitality Award went to Sandra Hall of Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchen. “Sandra Hall is a paragon of hospitality, engaging in heartfelt conversations with customers while simultaneously arranging musical entertainment and staff,” the release states. “She is committed to improving lives of all who walk through the door.”

Each of the winners received an award made from historic Legion Way Oak trees cut into the shape of Thurston County. The trees were planted in 1928 as a living memorial to local veterans.