RALEIGH – Three distinguished North Carolinians were honored today at the N.C. Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism for their significant and continuing contributions to the growth and success of North Carolina's tourism industry. The 2010 Winners Circle Awards were presented to Capt. David R. Scheu of Wilmington, Bill Hensley of Charlotte and Spencer Robbins of Banner Elk.
“These visionary leaders have given more than just time and effort to enhance the state’s tourism product. They have also contributed to the state’s economic and community well-being,” said North Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce J. Keith Crisco. “We thank them for their work and dedication.”
The Winners Circle Award originated in 2004. Previous recipients include H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, former president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway; Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers; Hugh Morton, owner of Grandfather Mountain; J. Craig Madison, president and CEO of the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville; Steve Miller, executive vice president of the Biltmore Company; Jack Goldstein, an influential member of numerous tourism related boards and development organizations; Phil Kirk, the former president and CEO of the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry; Bernie Mann, owner and publisher of the magazine Our State: Down Home in North Carolina; and Douglas L. Stafford, former president of the Charlotte and Asheville CVBs as well as the former executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The premier educational and networking event for the state’s tourism professionals, the Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism brings together representatives from chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, popular attractions, historical sites, the restaurant and lodging industry, business and state government. More than 400 attended last year’s conference in Raleigh.
Tourism remains a robust segment of the North Carolina economy. The travel and tourism industry employs nearly 183,000 across the state. In 2009, visitors to North Carolina spent nearly $15.6 billion.
About the Winners
Capt. David Scheu of Wilmington. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Scheu served 24 years of active duty, including 14 years at sea, until his retirement. The sea’s loss was North Carolina’s gain as he soon became executive director of Battleship North Carolina for more than 17 years. His leadership played a major part in the Battleship’s visibility. As director, he worked on many important projects, from the commissioning of the Submarine North Carolina to producing Wilmington’s Independence Day fireworks, which annually draw more than 40,000 people, as well as several film projects including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and the Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters.
Captain Scheu serves on the board of the Cape Fear Transportation Authority and has served as president and chair of the Board of the Historic Naval Ships Association, chairman of the board of the Cape Fear Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau and vice chairman for North Carolina on the Board of the Southeast Tourism Society, among others.
Bill F. Hensley of Charlotte is a public relations executive and a nationally known writer, promoter and lecturer. He is a member of the N.C. Journalism/PR Hall of Fame, the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and the N.C. Hall of Fame. He was North Carolina’s director of Travel and Tourism from 1965 to 1971 and won numerous national awards for his promotional and advertising programs. He was also founding chairman of the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau. He won the Charles Kuralt Award in 2001 and the Parker Award in 1975 for promotional excellence. He created the North Carolina golf course rating panel in 1995.
He continues to do freelance writing for golf and travel publications and represent resorts in a public relations capacity. His popular seminars on publicity, public relations, media relations and crisis management have been conducted nationally for more than 35 years.
Spencer Robbins of Banner Elk is a civic and entrepreneurial leader who has dedicated his life’s work to developing the North Carolina travel and tourism industry. He was president of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in forming the Southern Highland Attractions Association. He joined his older brothers Grover and Harry in developing some of the leading resorts in the High Country, including Tweetsie Railroad, Beech Mountain Resort and The Land of Oz.
In 1980, he, Harry Robbins and Hugh Morton organized and co-founded High Country Host in western North Carolina. Spencer was president of High Country Host from 1980-1982. He continues to work as executive vice president of Elk River Realty and serves as an adviser for numerous economic development initiatives across the High Country.
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