Receiving the TOUR SEKY “Rookie of the Year” award on Tuesday, Brandon Pennington, executive director of the Harlan Tourist and Convention Commission, said he felt the award was not just for him but for all Harlan County.
“Brandon exemplifies what the Rookie of the Year award is all about,” said Maggie Bill, programs director for TOUR SEKY. “He has truly hit the ground running and works hard to improve and develop tourism opportunities in Harlan. We appreciate his hard work and dedication to the industry.”
The award was presented at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset during a TOUR-SEKY forum, reception and luncheon. Also presented during the event were awards for Governmental Tourism Impact, APEX (Achievement, Professionalism, Excellence and X-ordinary) and the Lifetime Achievement.
The “Rookie of the Year” award recognizes the outstanding involvement and dedication of an individual who is new to the TOUR-SEKY program and has hit the ground running. The recipient of the award has been an active TOUR-SEKY participant for less than three years, but has made a tremendous impact on his/her community, project or organization.
“I was very surprised to get the award,” said Pennington. “I had known I was nominated, but I never expected to get it because there were so many fantastic directors of tourism and government employees who do so much for their towns. While I believe I do a good job at my position, I still felt humbled for being chosen.”
Pennington said winners were chosen from nominees in 47 different counties across the state. He said the award is not just for tourism directors but hotels, restaurants and government employees as well.
“When I first took this job I almost felt a little lost, because there is so much that goes into this job and tourism,” said Pennington. “Honestly, there is no way I could have won this award without having had good mentors, advisers and partners in tourism such as Kim Collier, Tracy Bailey and Suzanne Williams, and across the state people such as Sandra Wilson and Elaine Wilson and of course, the wonderful staff here in Harlan.”
Pennington been executive director for the Harlan Tourist Commission for the past 18 months. He is currently the vice president of Eastern Highland South, an 18 county regional tourism group, and is involved in the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, Kentucky Association of Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, along with TOUR-SEKY.
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