Denver’s $6.5 billion tourism industry – the second largest industry for the city – will honor five recipients that helped lead Denver to what is expected to be another record-breaking tourism year in 2019 as Tourism Stars.

Regarding this year’s Tourism Star recipients, Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, stated, “There are hundreds of people, organizations and events that contribute to the success of tourism in Denver, helping our economy and improving the lifestyle and destination appeal of the city. Each year we like to recognize those who went above and beyond to create an especially impactful visitor experience as Tourism Stars.”

The awards ceremony will take place at the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame dinner on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at the Mission Ballroom. In addition to the Tourism Star awards, five people will be inducted into the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame: former Denver Business Journal Publisher and past chairman of VISIT DENVER, Scott Bemis; Westword founder and editor, Patricia Calhoun; former VISIT DENVER communications director and travel writer, Rich Grant; and Denver restaurateurs, Kevin and Denise Taylor.

The Tourism Hall of Fame Dinner is the premier annual event for Denver’s travel industry – which matched its best year ever in 2018 with 31.4 million visitors, generating more than $6.5 billion in total visitor spending. The industry supports more than 60,000 jobs in the metro area.

The gala is also a fundraising event for the VISIT DENVER Foundation, which in its history has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to 391 Colorado students pursuing higher education in the fields of tourism and hospitality.

For ticket information, please contact Lauren Huffer at or 303.571.9405.


2019 Tourism Stars


The Civic Center Conservancy and the 100th Anniversary of Denver’s Civic Center Park

In 1919, Denver’s Civic Center Park was created to become the civic and cultural heart of the city, a mission that it has certainly fulfilled a century later. Surrounded by the State Capitol, City & County Building, Denver Public Library and Denver Art Museum, Civic Center Park is a 12-acre urban oasis that sits at the intersection of government, community and culture while anchoring one of the grandest architectural centers in America. Buildings by famed architects Michael Graves, Daniel Libeskind and Gio Ponti are all visible from the park, in addition to a historic Carnegie Library, and the McNichols Civic Center Building. It is also home to the largest public art collection in the city, boasting bronze sculptures, fountains and murals throughout the park.

In 2012, these 12 acres were designated as a National Historic Landmark – the only space in Denver holding this honor. The designation recognizes that Civic Center is one of the most complete and intact City Beautiful-era designs remaining today, a fact that is honored by the nonprofit Civic Center Conservancy, whose mission is to restore, enhance and activate this important space, bringing to life the visions of the city's founders 100 years ago. Civic Center Park is now one of the most visited – and one of the most photographed – sites in the state, hosting more than one million visitors per year.

In 2019 the park was home to Denver’s largest festivals including PrideFest, Cinco de Mayo (the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S.), The Biennial of the Americas and Taste of Colorado. When Time Magazine “Person of the Year” Greta Thunberg came to Denver in 2019, she spoke to large crowds from the Greek Amphitheatre stage in Civic Center Park. Thanks to the Civic Center Conservancy, the space also hosted the 2019 World Cup Ice Climbing Finals; Civic Center EATS (the largest weekly food truck roundup in Denver); Civic Center MOVES; Civic Center Art in the Park; and the wildly popular Independence Eve concert and fireworks.

Civic Center Park has also long been a site for civic discourse and rallies, hosting one of the largest Women’s Marches outside of Washington, D.C., and the Greater & Greener International Urban Parks Conference closing reception in 2019, as well as many other significant events throughout its century in existence.

For these reasons, Civic Center Park and the Civic Center Conservancy are honored as a 2019 Tourism Star.


Denver Art Museum for Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature

The Denver Art Museum rose to new heights in 2019 as the sole U.S. venue for Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature, the most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Monet paintings in more than two decades. In the midst of one of the largest renovations the Denver Art Museum has ever undergone, the celebrated cultural facility drew multiple sellout days throughout the run of the Monet exhibition. The beloved exhibition featured more than 120 paintings spanning Monet’s entire career and focused on the celebrated French Impressionist artist’s enduring relationship with nature and his response to the varied and distinct places in which he worked. It had a major influence on Denver’s tourism during off peak periods, drawing visitors from around the country to the city center for the cultural event of the season.


Denver Museum of Nature & Science for After the Asteroid: Earth’s Comeback Story; Leonardo da Vinci: 500 years of Genius; and The Science Behind PIXAR

Denver Museum of Nature & Science continued to show why it is one of the great museums of America with three large-scale exhibitions in 2019. In October, the museum announced that it would be hosting an exhibition that details the most significant paleontological discovery of our time, After the Asteroid: Earth’s Comeback Story, based on the findings of some of its own scientists. A newly discovered trove of remarkably preserved prehistoric fossils at Corral Bluffs near Colorado Springs brought into sharp focus how the Earth recovered after the devastating asteroid impact 66 million years ago – the explosion that eradicated the dinosaurs. The exhibit provides an opportunity to see the fossils, speak with some of the scientists and facilitators and explore the environments where the discovery was made.

Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius brought the most comprehensive exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci ever presented in Denver in honor of the 500th anniversary of his death. Known for his contributions in art, engineering and science, the exhibition featured models of some of Leonardo’s inventions and how he laid the groundwork for things like helicopters, airplanes and automobiles. One entire section of the exhibition was solely dedicated to the creation of the Mona Lisa, one of the most famous pieces of art in history.

The Science Behind Pixar showcases the science, technology, engineering, art and math concepts used by the artists, mathemeticians and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen. With more than 50 interactive elements, the exhibition exemplifies how the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is able to make every subject fascinating and educational to both Denver residents and millions of national and international visitors, further validating the Museum’s role as a 2019 Tourism Star.


History Colorado for Beer Here! Brewing the New West

A river of beer flows through Colorado’s past, and History Colorado’s Beer Here! exhibit brings it all back to life, elevating Denver as the world’s best destination for beer lovers. Visitors learn that saloons were not just saloons in Colorado’s early beginnings and the gold rush days; they were post offices, restaurants, hotels and social clubs. But then Colorado banned alcohol – four years before Prohibition hit the rest of the country. By the 1970s, beer was big business again. Really big business. As the industry grew in Colorado, homebrewers went pro, Denver became home to the world’s largest beer festival and new local craft breweries began opening with more and more frequency. The exhibition explores the city’s brewing past, present and future with brewing equipment, a massive bottle breaker from Prohibition days, the nation’s first aluminum beer cans, and a wealth of other artifacts from the state’s hoppy history. Visitors can walk into a nineteenth-century saloon, a Prohibition-era “drugstore,” and the actual kitchen of previous Tourism Hall of Fame winner Charlie Papasian, where the modern craft beer industry began. Beer has become one of Denver’s chief visitor draws, and no exhibit has ever shown this link better, which is why History Colorado is being honored as a Tourism Star.


U.S. Soccer Federation U.S. Women’s National vs. Australia, April 4, 2019, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) defeated number six Australia, 5-3 on April 4, 2019 in front of a sellout crowd of 17,264 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The record-setting number of spectators watched as team co-captain Alex Morgan scored the 100th goal of her career and local hero Mallory Pugh notched two goals in front of her hometown crowd. The USWNT went on to claim its record fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup title with a win over the Netherlands in Lyons, France in July.

Before their 2019 bid for the World Cup, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver soccer fans gathered in Civic Center Park to honor Denver natives Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh with Challenge Coins, Denver’s version of the key to the city, as well as send them and their teammates off to Europe with luck and support. The team’s 2019 journey was filled with records, milestones and honors; and the American women have now won half of the eight World Cups since 1991 – becoming world champions four times over in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019.

The USWNT game versus Australia rallied Denver’s enthusiastic soccer fan base and showcased Denver as a top destination for international sporting events, earning the event the honor of 2019 Tourism Star.