The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau honored local tourism “heroes” at an award ceremony Thursday as part of National Travel and Tourism Week.

The event was held in partnership with the Charlotte Chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center.

“The event recognizes hospitality and tourism industry employees who have been instrumental in consistently delivering an exceptional experience to visitors and residents alike,” the visitor bureau said in a news release.

Each year, the visitor bureau inducts a member of the local hospitality industry into the Tourism Hall of Fame. This year’s recipient was Kathy Burnam of Fishermen’s Village.

“Kathy has been an extraordinary ambassador for Fishermen’s Village and the entire destination for over 20 years,” the bureau said in the press release.

The bureau also presented tourism “hero” awards in several categories.

The winners are:

• Lodging Front of House Hero: Ella Crane, Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside

• Lodging Back of House Heroes: Melissa Dietzler, Wyvern Hotel, and Liame Avramov, Punta Gorda Waterfront Hotel and Suites


• Vacation Rental Heroes: Katie Meginley, Islander Properties, and Terry Haynes, Little Gasparilla Vacation Rentals

• Restaurant Front of House Hero: Savannah Pyles, Farlow’s on the Water

• Restaurant Back of House Hero: Juan Cazares, Lock ‘N Key Restaurant

• Attraction Hero of the Year: Valerie Wolfrey, Peace River Wildlife Center

The lodging association awarded scholarships to three culinary students:

• Mia Rivieccio, Charlotte Technical College

• Emilee Davis, Charlotte Technical College

• Tykiriah Thomas, Charlotte High School

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