Media // News Releases // Press Release

For Immediate Release
State of Minnesota

Media Contact(s):

Alyssa Hayes, Explore Minnesota
O: 651-757-1857 // [email protected]

David Bergman, Explore Minnesota
O: 218-316-3335 // [email protected]

Tourism Industry Achievements Highlighted at Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.  (Feb. 26, 2020) – During the 2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, held at Arrowwood Resort last night, several individuals, organizations and tourism businesses were recognized at the annual Explore Minnesota Tourism Awards for their contributions to the state’s $16 billion travel industry. Leadership award highlights include:

Marianna Khauv, owner of Best Western Chelsea Inn & Suites Monticello, was named “Outstanding Individual in Tourism” for her decades of work in the hospitality industry and contributions on behalf of the Minnesota tourism industry. In addition, Marianna has served on the board of directors for both theMonticello Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Lodging Association, and is an active member of the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, appointed by the governor. 

Kjersti Vick, marketing and public relations director, Visit Cook County, was presented with the “Tourism Rising Star” award. Kjersti’s leadership, intuition and curious nature have led to many innovative campaigns and long-lasting relationships that have made deep and lasting impacts, not only for Cook County, but for the entire state of Minnesota. This award recognizes an individual who is committed to making the destination a better place to visit and is passionate about promoting travel to and within the state of Minnesota.

Additional awards were presented in the following categories:

Only in MN Award Recipients:

  • Tourism Trailblazer Award: Otter Tail County
  • New Event of the Year: 2019 World Ploughing Competition, Lake of the Woods
  • New Event Award of Merit: Warroad’s October Festival       
  • Only in MN Icon Award: Saint Paul Winter Carnival
  • Marketing Partner of the Year: Lake of the Woods Brewing Company

Destination Marketing Award Recipients:

  • Branding & Integrated Marketing Campaign: Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
  • Branding & Integrated Marketing Campaign: Minneapolis Northwest Tourism
  • Niche Targeting: Montgomery Area Community Club
  • Niche Targeting: Lake of the Woods Tourism
  • Social Media Campaign: Otter Tail Lakes Country Association
  • Special Project: Minne-Roadtrip (Owatonna, Faribault and Northfield)

Approximately 250 attendees from around the state attended the annual conference, including representatives of convention and visitors bureaus and other tourism promotion organizations; hotels, resorts and campgrounds; and a variety of attractions, such as museums, parks, zoos, malls and historic sites. For more details about the Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, visit


About Explore Minnesota

As the state's tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. Tourism is a $16.0 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state's economy. The leisure and hospitality industry employs nearly 273,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota's private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates $1.0 billion of the state's sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes more than 73 million domestic and international travelers annually.

Find Your True North at, and share it with @exploreminn on Twitter, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.