Destinations International and the Destinations International Foundation Announce the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration Date, Location and Awardee

United Airlines to be honored with the Spirit of Hospitality Award; Ticket sales are now open.


Media Contact:

Caitlyn Blizzard

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Washington, D.C. (Jan. 10, 2020) – The Destinations International Foundation today announced that tickets are available for the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration. The annual event, co-hosted in partnership with Brand USA, will be held on February 4, 2020 at the National Air and Space Museum, 655 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, D.C. 20560.

The Spirit of Hospitality Celebration is a showcase of excellence in the tourism industry, an event that brings together industry leadership to raise funds critical to empowering destinations around the globe. The celebration is the signature fundraising event for the Destinations International Foundation, procuring important resources for critical work in the areas of research, education, advocacy and leadership development.

“The Spirit of Hospitality Celebration brings together travel and tourism peers to network, entertain clients and recognize leadership in our industry,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “We look forward to seeing members and partners at this critical event that raises funds that support the continued growth of destinations around the world. We also look forward to honoring this year’s Spirit of Hospitality Award recipient, United Airlines.”

About the Spirit of Hospitality Award Honoree:

United Airlines is flying high and leading the way on a global scale for a more sustainable, inclusive and customer-centric future. Since 2015, the airline has made great strides in its commitment to diversity, sustainability and relentless pursuit of outstanding customer service. These efforts demonstrate leadership, courage and innovation. United strives for excellence and keeps customers’ best interests at the heart of its service. Amid a series of improvements, the airline seeks to deliver a distinctive experience: “Connecting People. Uniting the World.”

“United Airlines has taken a bold commitment to sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership development and global outreach," said John Groh, CDME, foundation board chair and president/CEO of the Rockford Area CVB. “For these reasons, as well as United Airlines’ long history of support for the destination organization industry through partnership agreements with destination organizations both large and small, we are pleased to honor United Airlines with the Spirit of Hospitality Award.”

Ticket Sales and General Information:

General admission tickets are US$ 395 each and may be purchased at For those who wish to support the event or the Destinations International Foundation in a greater capacity, sponsorships with packaged admissions are available.

Doors open at 7 p.m. for the pre-award reception. An award ceremony and program will take place in the National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at 7:30 p.m. followed by a full celebration at 8:30 p.m.

The event will be held in conjunction with the launch of “Into America’s Wild,” Brand USA’s third film for IMAX and giant screen theaters in collaboration with MacGillivray Freeman Films. The film follows trailblazers John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, and Alaskan pilot Ariel Tweto, on a cross-country journey of the USA’s great outdoors.

The Destinations International Foundation supports the following important initiatives:

  • Education: The Destinations International Foundation invests in building knowledge by funding unique educational programming and providing scholarship opportunities to professionals to participate in industry conferences and certification programs.

  • Research: Through industry-specific research such as the Weaponization of Travel Report and the DestinationNEXT Futures Study, the foundation creates new knowledge and is one of the largest funders of studies to develop a better understanding of industry standards, trends and opportunities, as well as forecasting future threats.
  • Advocacy: Destination organizations face a growing need to advocate for the outcome of their efforts. The Destinations International Foundation works diligently to empower these organizations with facts, best practices and tools to mitigate current threats, and get ahead of future issues on the horizon.

  • Leadership Development: Through programs like the 30 Under 30 Program, the Destinations International Foundation is developing future industry leaders that represent a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives.

Previous Spirit of Hospitality Award recipients have included the following:

  • 2019 – Samantha Brown, television host/entrepreneur
  • 2018 – National Geographic Society
  • 2017 - Peter Yesawich, Vice Chairman of MMGY Global
  • 2016 – National Park Service
  • 2015 - Brand USA
  • 2014 - James Beard Foundation
  • 2013 - Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
  • 2012 - American Express
  • 2011 - Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association
  • 2010 - Travel Channel
  • 2009 - Anne D. Heller, USAE Custom News
  • 2008 - Arthur Frommer, Frommer's
  • 2007 - Donald S. Freeman Jr., Freeman
  • 2006 - Henry S. Givray, SmithBucklin
  • 2005 - Bruce Harris, Conferon Global Services, Inc.
  • 2004 - Susan Sarfati, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership
  • 2003 - Tom Curley, USA Today
  • 2002 - Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels
  • 2001 - The People of Southwest Airlines
  • 2000 - Ted Turner, Time Warner, Inc.
  • 1999 - The Marriott Family

For more information on the Destinations International Foundation or the Spirit of Hospitality, visit


About Destinations International:

Destinations International is the world’s largest resource for official destination organizations, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and tourism boards. Destinations International is about serving destination marketing professionals first and foremost. Together with more than 4,700 members and partners from nearly 600 destinations in approximately 15 countries, Destinations International represents a powerful forward-thinking, collaborative association; exchanging bold ideas, connecting innovative people and elevating tourism to its highest potential. For more information, visit  

About the Destinations International Foundation:

The Destinations International Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering destination marketers globally by providing education, research, advocacy and leadership development. The Foundation is classified as a charitable organization, under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code and all donations to the Foundation are tax deductible. For more information visit