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ACVA Sweeps State Awards Competition

Entering the Annual Governor's Conference on Tourism for the first time, Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (ACVA) brought home four of the 12 top awards presented.

Hosted by the Virginia Tourism Corporation in collaboration with the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association and the Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, the 2002 conference, held in Portsmouth, honored the best ideas and projects designed to promote tourism in a given area.

ACVA won more awards than any other destination, attraction, or hospitality property in the state, according to Laura N. Overstreet, ACVA public relations deputy director. Alexandria was honored in each of the four possible categories.

"It is particularly satisfying to receive this recognition from our peers," said Jo Anne Mitchell, ACVA executive director. "Virginia's hospitality and tourism industry is among the best in the country. We want to thank the City of Alexandria and the nearly 200 ACVA members for their ongoing support and confidence in our efforts. It is because of the strong partnership we share with city officials, staff, and our members that we are able to creatively market Alexandria."

ACVA's "Salute to Alexandria" was recognized as the Commonwealth's top "One-Time Event of the Year." It was in answer to the city's tourism downturn as a results of the attacks on Sept. 11.

STAGED IN OCTOBER, ACVA member hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and attractions hosted more than 200 meeting planners from throughout the Greater Washington Area to experience an evening filled with food, entertainment, and prizes highlighting Alexandria as a destination. It was held at the site of the former Alamo Restaurant on King Street in Old Town.

The Fun Siders tourism training program won the award for Educational Achievement of the Year. Now in its second year, the program is designed to equip hospitality industry employees with the information and customer service skills they need to better serve the public, Overstreet noted.

Outreach Effort of the Year Award recognized ACVA staff member, Jeremy Harvey, for the guide he authored documenting Alexandria's African American History entitled "A Remarkable and Courageous Journey." The 20-page illustrated pamphlet documents a complex story of heroic families and individuals.

It includes a map to 23 African American sites in Alexandria that helped shape the city's history.

A COOPERATIVE EFFORT with Alexandria Archeology and the Black History Resource Center, it has received national news media exposure stretching from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times. It was made possible through a matching grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable recognitions went to Elton "Ellie" Randell who was honored as the Commonwealth's Tourism Promotion Organization Employee of the Year. Randell is a 12-year employee at the Ramsey House Visitors Center.

"A native Alexandrian, Ellie often shares many stories of the local people and places she has personally known through her life with visitors," Overstreet noted. "During her tenure at Ramsey House, which is open 362 days a year, she has been available to work every holiday and special event scheduled in the city."