Language Translation
  Close Menu

Lt Governor Ellspermann presents Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award

Lt. Governor Ellspermann presents Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award

Ellspermann and Indiana Tourism also honor 18 recipients with Hoosier Hospitality Awards

INDIANAPOLIS (August 15, 2014) – Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presented the prestigious Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award to W.F. “Bill” Wellman of Valparaiso during a ceremony this afternoon at the Indiana State Fair. During the ceremony, Ellspermann and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) also presented 18 representatives of the tourism industry the Hoosier Hospitality Award for their high level of service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

“The collaboration and synergy among all of the tourism partners presents an amazing product that attracts millions of visitors to Indiana each year.” said Ellspermann. “Without today’s recipients doing their jobs in such an outstanding way, our tourism efforts would be meaningless. These professionals and their Hoosier Hospitality are the heart and soul of the Indiana tourism industry.”

The Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award is presented annually and is the highest tourism honor given by the state of Indiana. The award is named for the late Will Koch, long-time owner and president of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. IOTD and the Koch family established the honor to pay tribute to Will Koch’s many meaningful contributions to tourism, business and society.

“Although we all mourn Will’s early passing, for Lori and the kids and his dear mom Pat, this award is a lasting tribute to a wonderful industry leader and an outstanding Hoosier,” Ellspermann added.

Nominations for the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award are submitted by members of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Submissions are reviewed by an 8-member panel comprised of representatives from Purdue University, the Indiana State Fair, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Grow INdiana Media Ventures, the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association and state tourism leaders. Winners are recognized for outstanding accomplishments in economic and community development through tourism.

Throughout his over 50-year career, Wellman has been instrumental in the development of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. He began his career working at a family owned tavern in Valparaiso and later served as a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II. Wellman returned to Indiana to manage and own numerous attractions. He has served on many hospitality and tourism related boards and associations, including the Indiana Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Northwest Indiana Tourism Council, the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana and the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Wellman was inducted into the Indiana Restaurant and Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2002. He currently serves as a senior vice president for Whiteco Industries, a company he joined in 1976.

Nominations for Hoosier Hospitality Awards are submitted by community members and destination patrons. Nominations are reviewed and winners are selected by IOTD. Outstanding service is a major factor in determining whether a person returns to an individual business or destination. Tourism is big business in Indiana. The allied travel, tourism and hospitality industry is the sixth largest industry in the state (excluding government), is directly responsible for nearly 140,000 jobs, generates over $2.1 billion in tax receipts and contributes $10 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses. The recently-launched Honest-to-Goodness Indiana brand campaign aims to further elevate the undertold stories of Indiana’s destinations and attractions.

“A key component of Honest-to-Goodness Indiana is our state’s well-earned national reputation for Hoosier Hospitality,” said Mark Newman, executive director of IOTD. “As important as our agency and partner-bureaus are in growing the tourism trade and contributing to the financial well-being of our state, we could not succeed without the people on the frontlines who interact with visitors, guests and customers on a daily basis.”

The 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award recipients are:

Erica Anderson-SenterTwo-EEs WineryHuntington
Melissa BrockmanSpencer County Visitors BureauSpencer
Dwight BrooksMcCormick’s Creek State ParkOwen
Brad BumgardnerIndiana Dunes State ParkPorter
Amy CiskiKokomo Courtyard by MarriottHoward
Angie HarterCindy’s DinerAllen
Sara J. HobsonNoble County Convention and Visitors BureauNoble
Jim HodginScience CentralAllen
Kelly KepnerBenton County Economic DevelopmentBenton
Chris LafaveKurt Vonnegut Memorial LibraryMarion
Charles J. Markey, Jr.Markey’s Rental and StagingMarion
Kathy MillerAmish AcresElkhart
Laura ParkerTown of DanvilleHendricks
Mel RiegseckerRiegsecker MarketplaceLaGrange
Nancy SartainVisit Richmond/Wayne CountyWayne
Michael SweetHampton Inn- EdinburghBartholomew
Laura SwiftHoliday Inn Express Hotel & Suites DowntownMarion
Bob ZimmermanLincoln Boyhood National MemorialSpencer

Media Contact: 

Jake Oakman
Indiana Office of Tourism Development
317.232.8897- office
317-954-0132- cell

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann oversees the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. Mark Newman serves as the agency's executive director. IOTD is dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality of Indiana through leadership and resource support to the Indiana travel industry for awareness-building, product development and job creation.