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Visit Lake County Hosts Annual Luncheon Celebrating Excellence and Education

September 02, 2023

Annual Luncheon provides insights, highlights and awards; record-breaking attendance

GURNEE, IL – Visit Lake County recently hosted its highly anticipated Annual Luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in Mundelein. This prestigious event not only celebrates outstanding achievements in the tourism industry but also showcases the investment in the future of aspiring professionals. This year's luncheon highlighted Visit Lake County's commitment to fostering tourism excellence and education.

One of the event's highlights was the Friend of Tourism award presentation. Visit Lake County presents this honor to individuals or organizations who have contributed exceptionally to the growth and promotion of tourism within Lake County. This year's recipient, FOX 32 Chicago Meteorologist and Lake County resident Mike Caplan, was recognized for his outstanding dedication to showcasing the County's rich dining scene. Caplan has helped promote the bureau's initiative, Lake County Restaurant Week, since 2018, hosting over 30 Facebook Lives viewed by thousands in the Chicago area. His work has not only boosted tourism but has also contributed significantly to the local economy.

In addition to honoring achievements in the tourism sector, Visit Lake County reaffirmed its commitment to education by awarding its Hospitality Scholarship in partnership with the College of Lake County (CLC). This scholarship supports students attending CLC pursuing hospitality, travel or tourism careers. This year's scholarship recipient, Fernanda "Mattie" Romero of Waukegan, exhibited exceptional promise and passion for the industry, making her a standout choice for this prestigious award. The scholarship will assist Mattie in furthering her education and ultimately contribute to the tourism sector's growth.

President of Visit Lake County, Maureen Riedy, expressed her enthusiasm for the event, "The Annual Luncheon serves as a platform to recognize the dedicated individuals and organizations that make Lake County a premier destination. We are equally thrilled to invest in the future of the tourism industry through the Hospitality Scholarship, ensuring that we continue cultivating the brightest talents in our community."

The luncheon's keynote speaker, Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) Deputy Director Daniel Thomas, spoke about the state's marketing initiatives, the economic impact of Illinois tourism and visitor spending and the state's upcoming fall campaign. Thomas also highlighted the Illinois Made Program, the state program that celebrates artists, chefs, manufacturers and more. The presentation included an IOT-produced video featuring Dangelas Dumplings of Libertyville, one of the program's newly named Illinois Makers. The luncheon, attended by tourism industry leaders, local officials and community members, provided a valuable opportunity to network and collaborate on initiatives to elevate Lake County as a must-visit destination further. In nearly 40 years of the Gurnee-based Lake County Convention Visitors Bureau hosting this yearly meeting, VLC achieved record-breaking attendance with over 200 individuals present. Visit Lake County marked its 39th Anniversary by achieving record-breaking attendance with over 200 individuals present.

Visit Lake County serves as the champion for tourism and the official destination marketing organization for Lake County, Illinois and represents municipalities, hotels, attractions and hospitality-related businesses throughout the County. The agency provides travel resources and services for visitors and event planners to amplify visitors' spending and experiences and generate a substantial economic impact for communities. Connect with Visit Lake County: 800-LAKE-NOW,, and on social, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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