Governor's Conference on Tourism Awards
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism Awards recognize individuals, businesses and organizations that have distinguished themselves through their work and contributed to the growth of tourism in Maine.
Congratulations to this year's award winners!
The Nonantum Resort – Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence
The Nonantum Resort is a family-owned property in Kennebunkport that welcomes many returning guests every year, specializing in weddings, business meetings, and family vacations. The resort’s dedication to hospitality is clearly seen in the customer reviews on TripAdvisor, where The Nonantum is ranked #1 in Kennebunkport. Guests rave about the customer service and staff morale. This culture can only come from excellent leadership and a commitment to the employees as the business’s greatest assets.
The award-winning service at The Nonantum Resort is a credit to its accomplished and committed leaders. Jean Ginn Marvin, the Innkeeper at the Nonantum, is the past president of the Maine Innkeepers Association while Tina Gordon, the General Manager is the past Chair of The Maine Restaurant Association. Tina is now on the Maine Tourism Association board and Jean serves as the Chair of the Maine Community College Board of Trustees.
The Nonantum Resort invests in training and education for their employees. They offer scholarship programs, career development, employee assistance, and educational resources from GED to college preparation. Their job retention rate is over 70% and they hire many teens starting their very first job. The Nonantum Resort is also a center of charitable giving in the Kennebunkport area, helping to coordinate community functions like Fire and Ice that also help tourism economic development for their area, and providing event space, meals and gift cards for many local and statewide charities to further their causes.
Red River Camps - Leadership & Growth Award
Red River Camps, built in 1886 and operating commercially since 1926, is a traditional wilderness lodge in the Deboullie township in northern Aroostook County. Since purchasing Red River from her parents in 2009, current owner Jennifer Brophy has increased the business’ net sales by nearly 300%. This massive, sustained increase in popularity is partly the result of extensive facility upgrades; Jen has re-invested nearly $400,000 over 10 years to bring Red River into the 21st century while maintaining its 19th century comfort and charm. Innovative upgrades have included a solar-powered pressurized water distribution system and a three-kilowatt solar power system to fulfill the facility’s power needs without fossil fuels.
Brophy’s ongoing volunteer efforts help bolster the tourism base for all Maine sporting camps and northern Maine businesses. She served on the board of the Maine Sporting Camp Association for six years and served as its president from 2013 until 2018. She is a current member of the Aroostook County Tourism board, the Maine Forest Legacy Committee, and IF&W’s Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation stakeholder committee among other volunteer activities.
Christina Kane-Gibson - Innovation & Creativity Award
Christina lived in Texas before returning to her home town as the Events and Marketing Director for the City of Caribou in 2017. As events and marketing director, Christina has elevated existing programs using creative logos and innovative partnerships to showcase Caribou’s diverse heritage and culture. For example, in preparation for BikeMaine’s stop in Caribou in Fall 2018, she drew on the region’s Acadian heritage and contacted Cycle Zydeco, Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cycling Festival to cross promote with a prize drawing for 2 full-ride tickets to the 2019 Cycle Zydeco event for Bike Maine participants. Entertainment included a concert by Cajun band La Recolte and a performance by a Micmac woman’s drum group. A letter of support from the Aroostook Band of Micmacs’ tribal chief credits Kane-Gibson for including the tribe in the BikeMaine event, and in every opportunity when promoting the City of Caribou.
Main Street Skowhegan - Marketing & Promotion Award
Founded in 2005, Main Street Skowhegan is a nonprofit focused on the ongoing revitalization of historic Skowhegan. The organization spearheads collaborative efforts to support businesses and diversify the economy, stimulate tourism, and tell Skowhegan’s story. Main Street Skowhegan submitted a successful proposal to bring the Maine Moose Lottery to Skowhegan in 2018. The Main Street team then planned and executed a three-day Skowhegan Moose Festival around the lottery.
Capitalizing on the already established and beloved moose lottery, the festival drew an estimated 6,000 people from all over the Northeast, breaking attendance records for past moose lottery events. Marketing for the event resulted in 18,622 unique pageviews (7,948 users) on SkowheganMooseFest.com during festival week, June 4 and June 10, 2018, and the moose fest Facebook page had 1,094 followers. Main Street Skowhegan also partnered with the Kennebec Valley Tourism Council to double its PR budget and hire a PR firm, Marshall Communications. As a direct result of media outreach, Smithsonian Magazine named Skowhegan one of the 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018. Main Street Skowhegan’s total 2018 investment in marketing was more than $47,000.
One of the festival highlights was an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the most people moose-calling simultaneously. An estimated 2,000 people filled the grandstand, breaking the record and helping to bring national attention to Skowhegan and Maine.
Gary Allen - Originality Award
Gary Allen is a long-distance runner, race director, and founder of the Mount Desert Island Marathon, the DownEast Sunrise Trail Relay and most recently, the Millinocket Marathon. He started the Millinocket event in December 2015 after reading about the economic challenges faced by the area after the mill closure. Allen launched the event by inviting people he knew in the running world to come for an impromptu race, no charge, encouraging them instead to spend money locally and give a boost to the town. 50 people crossed the finish line that first year. Runners World and other media picked up the story, word spread, registration grew, and by the December 2017 race, 1500 runners crossed the finish line. The Millinocket Marathon was recognized as a national 2018 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism event by Sports Destination Management in Alabama; their report states the estimated impact of the event is between $200,000 and $250,000. Beyond the annual infusion of cash, the event has helped give new heart to the town in support of revitalization for Millinocket.