Tourism Confab Honors Its Doers

CTC Logo 260pxHartford: Governor Dannel P. Malloy, together with the Connecticut Office of Tourism, presented the 2017 Connecticut Governor's Tourism Awards. honoring five individuals and organizations at the annual Connecticut Governor's Conference on Tourism for their “outstanding contributions and dedication to Connecticut's $14.7-billion tourism industry sector” on May 4th.

More than 400 attendees from tourism-related businesses, associations and municipalities across the state joined the Governor in congratulating the winners.

Connecticut’s official tourism website,, also had a good year, relaunched in April 2016, the website attracted 4.2 million visits last year, a 64 percent increase over 2015, and generated 2.2 million referrals for industry partners listed on the site

"The tourism sector is one of the major drivers of Connecticut's economy," Governor Malloy said. "The industry creates jobs, generates tax revenues and contributes to our high quality of life in Connecticut. It's an honor to recognize some of the key people involved in making tourism such a vital contributor to our state's economy."

Virginia Kozlowski, Executive Director of Visit New Haven, Connecticut Lodging Association and REX Development, receives the 2017 Connecticut Governor's Tourism Award for Tourism Legacy Leader. From left: Randy Fiveash, Director, Connecticut Office of Tourism; Governor Dannel P. Malloy; Virginia Kozlowski; Catherine Smith, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

TOURISM LEGACY LEADER: Virginia Kozlowski, Executive Director, Visit New Haven, Connecticut Lodging Association, REX Development

Virginia Kozlowski, is a 25-year-veteran of the hospitality industry in Connecticut. Kozlowski has served in a variety of leadership roles, from restaurant controller and hotel general manager to president of the New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau and executive director of the Connecticut Lodging Association.


LEADER OF THE YEAR: Jeff Andersen, Director, Florence Griswold Museum

Andersen's leadership, was cited at the ceremony for  ”transforming” the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme “from a hidden-secret historical site to one of the state's premier cultural institutions — and one of the nation's preeminent centers for American Impressionism.”    

In 2016, the museum acquired the last remaining parcel of the original Griswold estate, restoring the historic site to completion for the first time since it was divided in 1937. Andersen is expected to retire in 2018 after 40 years of leadership.


PARTNER OF THE YEAR: Connecticut Art Trail

For more than two decades of effort the members of the Connecticut Art Trail were recognized  for “tirelessly to promoting Connecticut's rich cultural history and driving visitation to the state.” Led by president, Carey Weber, the Connecticut Art Trail has grown to include 18 world-class museums and historic sites that collaboratively market their offerings to support tourism, culture, art and education.

The Connecticut Art Trail unveiled a new Art Passport this spring, which replaces the Art Pass. The Art Passport offers additional benefits, discounts, gifts, and a grand prize drawing for anyone who visits all 18 member museums in one year.


VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR: Durham Fair Volunteers

The Durham Fair started as a smal town agricultural fair in 1916 and has grown to be the largest agricultural fair in Connecticut. The event draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the state and beyond. The volunteers include: farmers, business professionals, government officials, emergency responders, medical professionals, families, students and teachers — “who have committed their time and passion to making the event a success year after year.”

The 100-percent volunteer-led event, which invests many of its profits back into the community, “stands as a testament to the cooperative spirit in Durham and the surrounding communities.” Accepting the award on behalf of all these volunteers was Daniel Miramant, who has served as president of the Durham Agricultural Fair Association since 2013.     

RISING STAR: Ben Paletsky, CEO, South Farms

Ben Paletsky is the driving force behind South Farms in Morris, one of New England's” premier destination-farm venues.” During the past four years, Paletsky expanded the homestead, which now features "The White Barn" and "The Morris Marketplace," drawing thousands of guests to the area every year for weddings, festivals, and other community events.     

Paletsky, who is an active member of the business community in Morris and Litchfield County, is also attracting a portfolio of complimentary entrepreneurial businesses to co-locate on the property, including the state's largest commercial hops-growing operation.