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TOMMY AWARDS TO RECOGNIZE HOSPITALITY HEROES

July 26, 2002 – Residents have until Aug. 15 to nominate anyone in the local hospitality industry for a Tommy Award, a new form of recognition being given by the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association.
Beverly Nicholson, association executive director, said that while most people focus on hotel personnel when they think about tourism awards, in fact, many other members of the community also can make or break and tourist's vacation. "We're tapping into a lot of the community," she said.
Awards will be given for the hotel associate, hotel department supervisor, retailer associate, attraction, activity, tour operator, cruise excursion associate, taxi operator and restaurant associate of the year.
The recognition awards will be presented on Nov. 16 at a gala ceremony at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa. The association is planning to make them an annual affair.
Preliminary judging will be done by a panel of human resources managers from various businesses within the hospitality sector of the award category. However, Nicholson said, a manager cannot be a judge if one of his or her workers is nominated in that category. The preliminary judging will narrow the field in each category to three nominees.
Once that process is over, a panel of judges with ties to the tourism industry, but no current active involvement in it, will pick the winners. Nicholson said judges selected so far are Leona Bryant, former Tourism director; Nick Pourzal, former general manager of Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort; and Sam Rey, a former executive at several local hotels.
Nicholson said that while she expects a few "hiccups" in the awards process this time around, it has caught on already to the extent that she received calls from St. Croix asking that employees on the big island island be included. The association will consider that for next year, she said. She said this is the first time in her nine years with the association that it has given such awards.
To nominate an individual or an entity for a 2002 Tommy Award, call Canika George at the Hotel and Tourism Association offices. The number is 774-6835.

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