100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Destination & Travel Foundation To Honor U.S. National Park Service With 2016 Spirit of Hospitality Award

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Board of Trustees of the Destination & Travel Foundation have selected the U.S. National Park Service as the upcoming recipient of its highest honor, the Spirit of Hospitality Award, presented annually to the individual or organization that has shown exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry.

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016. The centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs. 

"From the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore to the Florida Everglades and Statue of Liberty, the National Park Service has supported America's tourism industry for over 100 years," said Joseph Marinelli, Chairman of the Destination & Travel Foundation Board of Trustees. "And with over 400 national parks in all 50 states, the NPS has helped to attract visitors, and generate visitor spending, to destinations throughout the country, while also luring millions of international visitors from around the world."

In 2014, the National Park Service welcomed more than 292 million visitors, an increase of nearly 20 million over 2013.These park visitors spent nearly $16 billion in gateway regions. While the largest proportion of that money came from visitors staying in a hotel or motel outside of parks, a significant portion came from the nearly 16% of visitors represented by non-locals taking day trips to the park. In addition to lodging, park visitors spend significant amounts on restaurants and bars, as well as on supplies at gas stations, grocery and convenience stores.

“The National Park Service is honored to be recognized with the Spirit of Hospitality Award,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, “especially in light of the 2016 centennial, during which we invite everyone to Find Your Park. The national parks have a long and collaborative relationship with the tourism industry, working together to provide memorable visitor experiences and to ensure the long-term conversation of our nation’s cultural and natural heritage.”

“Tourism not only provides an economic stimulus to these communities through visitor spending, but parks and public areas often receive funding from the visitor economy, which helps to preserve and maintain the local quality of life,” said Valencia Bembry, Executive Director of the Destination & Travel Foundation. 

The award will be presented February 9, 2016 during the 23rd Annual Destination & Travel Foundation Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.