Alexandria received dual recognition at the recently completed 2003 Virginia Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism held at the Tyson's Corner Sheraton Premier.
Michael Anderson, owner of Mango Mike's Cool Caribbean Cafe and Simply Fish, was named Virginia's Restaurant Management Employee of the year and Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (ACVA) received the One-Time Event of the Year Award for its 2002 Seaport Summer Sounds free concert series.
Hosted by the Virginia Tourism Corporation in collaboration with the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association and Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Association, the conference also heard Governor Mark Warner reiterate his support for Virginia tourism as "one of the prime economic engines of the Commonwealth."
Statewide tourism is a $13 billion industry and provides more than 211,000 jobs, according to economic calculations. More than 85 percent of Virginia's visitors drive to the state.
Anderson was cited for his support of tourism and community causes in Alexandria. As a member of ACVA's Board, he recently emceed the Fun Side Forum which announced the upcoming Arts Festival scheduled for this September.
"It's not just success in business that makes Mike one of the outstanding members of this community, it's the generosity and vitality he brings to everything he is involved in," said Jo Anne Mitchell, ACVA's president and CEO. "Mike has been an enthusiastic supporter of tourism and the ACVA from the beginning."
IN NOMINATING Anderson for the award, Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley said, "Mike Anderson has always been willing to participate in civic endeavors which benefit the broader community. Whether it is hosting a reception for our child welfare project, or serving on the ACVA Board. Mike has given of his time and expertise to make Alexandria a better place to live and work."
ACVA's concert series were held Friday evenings in locations alternating between upper and lower King Street as a way to draw business to Alexandria. They were funded by a $60,000 grant from City Council, which approved the use of federal emergency funds provided to localities affected by September 11, 2001.
In the fall of 2001, Alexandria restaurants, hotels, and retail stores saw a significant drop in business due to 9/11. ACVA saw the concerts as one way to entice visitors back to the city. They offered a broad spectrum of music that included swing, jazz, blues, country, salsa, gospel, big band sounds, and rock 'n roll.
The concerts proved to be a resounding success. They were often packed with more than 200 people, according to ACVA. Businesses near the concert sites saw a definite increase in foot traffic, according to Laura Overstreet, ACVA deputy director. As a result of an aggressive public relations campaign, Alexandria was identified throughout the D.C. region as the site of these crowd-pleasing musical events.