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December 3, 2012

For more information:
Tallie Mattson
Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office
360-750-1553 Ext 19


Vancouver, Wash. - The Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office announced today the recipients of the sixth annual Clark County Tourism Awards, honoring star individuals and organizations that have made considerable contributions to tourism and economic growth in Clark County.

"There are many tourism heroes in our communities that have positively impacted economic growth in Clark County," said Kim Bennett, president and CEO of Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office. "The Tourism Awards recognize the effort, innovation and leadership displayed by organizations and individuals who strive to attract visitors to Clark County."

The three category winners were nominated by their peers and then selected by the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office. The 2012 Tourism Award winners are:

  • The Tourism Ambassador Award - As the bookstore manager at Pearson Air Museum, Deborah Bessette regularly greets visitors to Vancouver and Clark County. As a true ambassador, she happily welcomes guests and offers suggestions for their visit. Bessette continually strives to enhance the experience of visitors and provides a wealth of information regarding our area.
  • The Outstanding Tourism Professional Award - This award honors an individual who has gone the extra mile to promote the tourism industry in Clark County. Russell Brent, owner of Mill Creek Pub, certainly fits this bill for his work in not only drawing visitors and locals alike to his pub, but also for his work on the Passport to Battle Ground program. Brent is leading the drive to bring this innovative economic program to the community which promotes the amenities and attractions of North County.
  • The Spirit of Tourism Award - The Ke Kukui Foundation's work on the 3 Days of Aloha festival, brings thousands of visitors to Vancouver each summer for three days of fun at Esther Short Park. This annual event celebrates the Hawaiian culture with workshops, activities, music, dance and food. This event contributes to the economic vitality of the region by attracting tourists from across the nation.

Tourism is a vital part of Clark County's economy and is one of the leading generators of employment in the area. In the most recent annual numbers:

  • Visitor spending in Clark County exceeded $424 million, with $128 million spent on lodging alone
  • Tourism supported 3,970 jobs in Clark County and over $101 million in earnings
  • Travel spending generated more than $27 million in local and state taxes

Local Chambers of Commerce co-sponsored the awards and solicited nominations from their members. Sponsoring organizations include the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce and the Camas Washougal Chamber of Commerce. The City of Vancouver, Clark County Board of Commissioners and the Clark County Lodging Association also supported the awards.

Featured video interviews of the award recipients can be seen online at the Tourism Office's website,, or on YouTube,

About Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office

The Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office, along with the Vancouver USA Regional Sports Commission, is an economic development organization responsible for competitively marketing Vancouver and the surrounding area as a destination for meetings, conventions, sports events, and group and leisure travelers. The organization's mission is to promote Vancouver and Clark County by increasing convention and visitor business. For more information call 360-750-1553, or visit