PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Mike Rounds and the South Dakota Office of Tourism presented awards to top visitor industry leaders Thursday evening at the 2010 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pierre.
The Ben Black Elk Award went to Howard and Audrey Shaff (SHA’-f), who currently live in Rapid City. The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to South Dakota’s visitor industry.
The Shaffs have written numerous publications and books that reference Gutzon Borglum, helped launch group-travel marketing initiatives for the state and the region, and initiated the state’s Japanese marketing efforts.
“The Shaffs’ dedication and commitment to the visitor industry in South Dakota is greatly appreciated,” said Gov. Rounds. “They have made meaningful contributions over the years that have resulted in significant benefits for the industry.”
The A. H. Pankow Award, which honors a media outlet or individual member of the media for unparalleled coverage and promotion of the state’s visitor industry, was awarded to Mark Kayser (KY’-zur), of Sheridan, Wyo. Kayser began as an outdoor photographer for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, then worked as Media Relations Coordinator for the Office of Tourism. Since that time, he has worked to promote South Dakota’s outdoors in various publications and outdoor shows nationwide.
“Mr. Kayser has tirelessly supported and publicized South Dakota’s outdoors for more than 20 years,” the Governor said. “His love of our state and its resources has resulted in millions of dollars of publicity and has impressively showcased what South Dakota has to offer potential visitors from across the nation.”
Gov. Rounds presented the George S. Mickelson Great Service Award to the Yankton Convention and Visitors Bureau and XanterraParks and Resorts at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone.
“They have both done an exemplary job of exceeding visitors’ expectations in customer service,” the Governor said. “Their dedication to hospitality and customer satisfaction has provided thousands of visitors with memorable vacations and travel experiences.”
The Rooster Rush Cacklin' Community Award, new to the conference this year, went to the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau for its enthusiasm and promotion of the fall Rooster Rush campaign. Members of the organization showed exceptional dedication to highlighting the 2009 pheasant hunting season with advertising and promotional events.