The Ozark Gateway Tourist Council (OGT) was recognized during the 2024 Arkansas Tourism Henry Awards during the 50th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Feb. 27 in Jonesboro.

“It’s an honor to be nominated for one of Arkansas Tourism’s Awards, but to be voted as the Region of the Year by our peers at the conference was truly special,”said Crow.

Ozark Gateway’s board members Pat Behrndt, John Morrow, Executive Director Cathy Drew and President Crystal Crow accepted the Tourism Region of the Year Award.

The OGT covers covers eight unique counties, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp and Stone, each with its own history, heritage, events, and attractions.

The award is presented to one of Arkansas’s 12 Regional Tourist Associations for excellence over the course of the previous year. “Cathy, who is absolutely the best region director in the state, is an amazing mentor for all of us here in the region, and as we continue to grow and develop our local tourism industry we are thrilled to see our cities collaborating and working together in ways that have a positive effect for not only each other but the entire region as a whole — small towns and volunteers showing up in big ways to show off the heritage and features of the places they call home. This award is truly a testament to the hard work of our individual members, whose sum of its parts is greater than the whole,” Crystal said.

“We have had a very busy year and look forward to making sure 2024 is even better. Arkie Travels, Springfield TV along with other great projects have helped us entice many new visitors to the area. We look forward to new marketing techniques to continue to put the OG in the path of potential travelers,” said Drew.

Additional awards presented included The Natural State Tourism Development Award – Tourism Organization of the year to Little Rock; Rising Star Award presented to Heather Kouns with North Little Rock Tourism; Tourism Attraction of the Year to Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Person of the Year to John Gill.

Up next on the region’s agenda is planning for the Annual Awards Banquet on April 25th at the Studio in Walnut Ridge. “We are excited to be working on a locally sourced menu that showcases the agricultural roots in Lawrence County, and we want to invite everyone to come experience the murals and art on Main Street and to go check out the Wings of Honor Museum.  Just come be inspired by how your peers are telling the story of their towns.  I promise you will leave inspired and see your town in a different perspective. Tickets to the event can be purchased by reaching out to Cathy at 870-307-1488 or by contacting one of your county’s OGT Board members.

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Lauren is a an award-winning journalist who decided after 10 years of newspaper experience to venture out. Hallmark Times was born.