GREENVILLE, NC- The Greenville-Pitt County Convention Visitors Bureau (Visit Greenville, NC) and local partners were honored to receive several awards at the recent North Carolina Travel Industry Association’s Tourism Leadership Conference held in Winston-Salem. 

“It is an honor to for both our staff and tourism partners to be recognized by our peers for their incredible work, commitment, and contributions in promoting travel to Greenville-Pitt County and the state of North Carolina,” stated Andrew Schmidt, President & CEO of Visit Greenville, NC.

Third-generation Pitt County pit master Sam Jones of Sam Jones BBQ and Skylight Inn BBQ was honored with the NCTIA Tourism Excellence for Individual Award. This award is given to a person from the private sector who has performed an apparent service to the development and promotion of travel to North Carolina that transcends personal gain. Along with being a visionary businessman, captivating storyteller, relentless road warrior, and family man, Sam is truly an authentic ambassador for not only Eastern North Carolina, but for our entire state. Through his travels to BBQ and food festivals, media interviews, authoring a cookbook, and more he creates a sense of place through food and hospitality that inspires people to come experience North Carolina for themselves. Sam has been an advocate and wonderful partner to our Visit Greenville, NC office for many years, traveling and cooking at many tourism industry events, helping host travel writers, participating in the Pitt County Brew & ‘Cue Trail, and much more and we are so proud that his work has been recognized by our statewide tourism industry partners. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to carry what my family started in a hole in the ground in Ayden, NC to crowds all over America. After doing so for over a decade promoting our restaurants, our region, and what BBQ means to North Carolina, I was humbled to be recognized by my home state,” said Sam Jones. “I’m proud to be from North Carolina, specifically Ayden, North Carolina, and I’m glad that after each event I do, I get to come back to where home has always been.”

Rachel Whitten, Director of Sales & Services for Visit Greenville, NC received the 2021 Destination Rising Star Award. This award is given to an individual who has been in the tourism industry for less than three years, but has made an immediate positive impact. Responsible for creating a positive economic impact via the conventions and meetings market by selling Greenville-Pitt County meeting and event facilities, as well as the destination itself to meeting planners, organizational boards, and meeting attendees, Rachel’s creativity, drive, relationship building style, and willingness to volunteer has distinguished her within the tourism industry and our community as she works to establish Greenville-Pitt County as a premier meetings destination within North Carolina and the Southeast.

“I love where I live and what Greenville-Pitt County has to offer to meeting planners, attendees, and visitors alike. To be able to share that love through a career in an industry that thrives on connecting people to, and through, places is a blessing. Being recognized by that industry and by my peers as someone who stands out by making a positive impact is an honor,” stated Rachel Whitten, Director of Sales & Services for Visit Greenville, NC.

Visit Greenville, NC also won the NCTIA Group Sales Platinum Award for hosting the 2021 Little League Softball World Series. Held in earlier in August, this sports tournament generated an estimated economic impact of $857,000 for the local Greenville-Pitt County economy. Visit Greenville, NC and the Greenville-Pitt County Sports Commission partnered to work with our advertising agency of record, French West Vaughan, to produce a 30 second commercial promoting the best of our destination which aired on various ESPN networks during the weeklong tournament showcasing Greenville-Pitt County to a regional and national audience. 

In recognition of our marketing efforts to bring meetings and conventions business back, Visit Greenville, NC also received the NCTIA Meetings & Conventions Platinum Award for our “We’re Ready to Welcome You Back to Greenville, NC” promotional video produced in partnership with Asher James Photography of Greenville. This video highlighted the Covid-19 safety precautions being implemented by our hotels, meeting spaces, and other tourism partners during pandemic to keep meeting attendees safe in our destination. 

The North Carolina Travel Industry Association was established in 1955 by Governor Luther Hodges and given a mission to consolidate resources and promote our great State. To this day, the Association remains open to anyone interested in becoming a member, but most are local businesses or statewide organizations that thrive on the tourism economy. NCTIA’s 64-year history of distinguished service to the travel industry by helping our member organizations be prepared and connected, and is the only member-based statewide organization that encompasses all aspects of the industry and provides resources for anyone interested in issues relative to North Carolina‘s travel and tourism economy. 

Sam Jones NCTIA Award 2021  Rachel Whitten NCTIA 2021 Rising Star  NCTIA 2021 Awards