Carolyn S. Hill and Craig Ackerman, two leaders in Southern Oregon tourism development, received the Oregon Governor’s Tourism Award Sunday for their efforts in establishing a sister park agreement between Crater Lake National Park and Wuyishan National Scenic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China.
The honor, presented by Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson, was the highlight of the annual Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism awards dinner Sunday night at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton, Ore.
Carolyn S. Hill is CEO of Travel Southern Oregon and executive director of the Crater Lake National Park Trust. Craig Ackerman is the Crater Lake National Park superintendent.
In presenting the award, Davidson highlighted the continued increase in Chinese travelers visiting Oregon and praised the efforts of Hill and Ackerman in making the sister city program a reality. He termed the award “the pinnacle of achievement in Oregon’s travel and tourism industry.”
"The China market is lucrative and continues to grow," he told the conference audience. "In 2014, Oregon welcomed approximately 62,000 Chinese visitors who contributed more than $48 million into the state’s economy. And, as of the third quarter in 2015, we saw approximately 107,000 Chinese visitors, a 25 percent increase over the same time period in 2014."
“I applaud Carolyn Hill and Craig Ackerman for their efforts to further strengthen the bond between Oregon and her sister state in China, the Fujian Province,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a statement. “By achieving greater understanding of our respective natural environments, we cultivate mutual respect for and understanding of each other’s cultures.”
"This is a very humbling award," Superintendent Ackerman said. "I've been given the privilege of trying to protect Crater Lake not just for Oregonians but for everyone around the country and the world who want to come to see it. My work is made much easier by the exemplary work of the folks at Travel Oregon. They make my job immensely easier."
Hill credited the Travel Southern Oregon board of directors for giving her the freedom to pursue new tourism marketing initiatives. "They are courageous, imaginative and not afraid of big ideas," she said. "This is globalization at its very best and that’s where we should be going."