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Hayes earns statewide tourism designation
new deh community coordinator christina hayes
Christina Hayes

TOPEKA – The Travel Association of Kansas announced Oct. 7 the Kansans who earned their Kansas Destination Specialist professional designation, including Christina Hayes, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau director and community coordinator.

The awards were announced during the 2020 Kansas Tourism Conference, which is being held virtually throughout the month of October.

“I’m so proud of this accomplishment,” Hayes said, but she deflected the attention to her role in promoting the city. “It means to me that Great Bend is striving for tourism excellence within our state, and for me. I just want my peers to know that Great Bend cares and we are proud to be in the center of our state doing awesome things.”

TIAK is a statewide membership organization whose mission is to speak with one voice for the travel and tourism industry in Kansas by supporting all components of the travel development field. Its goals are to influence government decisions, provide a forum for interaction among all industry sectors, and develop programs that positively reflect the impact of tourism on the state and local economies.

TIAK offers the Kansas Destination Specialist certification program to familiarize and further Kansans’ knowledge of the state, tourism marketing and leadership. To qualify, one must earn points by attending continuing educational opportunities, read and complete three book reports within specified categories, and visit one Kansas attraction more than 50 miles from their home. Individuals must renew their KDS certification every even year.

Other winners included:

• Rebekah Baughman, marketing and events coordinator, Kansas City Kansas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

• Alice Cress, tourist counselor, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

• Andrea Etzel, publications manager – Tourism Division, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

• Kelli Hilliard, industry relations manager – Tourism Division, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

• Betsy Smith, recreation and tourism coordinator, City of Bonner Springs.

• Brenda Smith, tourist counselor, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.