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Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium is selected for the CVB’s Hospitality Award.
SBJ file photo
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium is selected for the CVB’s Hospitality Award.

CVB to honor WOW, businessman among top annual awards

Posted online

Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium and businessman John Whittington are among honorees for the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual Salute to Travel & Tourism Awards.

Six businesses and individuals are slated to be honored Feb. 21 at White River Conference Center, according to a news release.

WOW was chosen to take home the Hospitality Award, given to attractions, lodging facilities or restaurants that promote tourism to the area and provide a good experience for the traveling public.

After reopening at 500 W. Sunshine St. in September 2017, WOW brought in an estimated 1.6 million visitors in its first year, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The 350,000-square-foot attraction holds 35,000 fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, and 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Whittington, the owner of Springfield-based Whittington Associates, was selected for the Pinnacle Award, the CVB’s top honor at its annual Salute to Travel & Tourism Awards. It’s presented to individuals who have been active for years in the area travel industry and have made substantial contributions to make it better, according to the release.

A previous Salute to Travel & Tourism honoree, Whittington’s 40-year-old company serves as a marketing firm and consultant for entertainment and leisure clients, among other roles, according to his LinkedIn profile.

CVB officials cited his civic leadership serving on its board and those of the Springfield-Branson National Airport, Ozark Empire Fair Springfield Symphony and others. He also set up an endowment at Missouri State University to support men’s basketball.

The Pinnacle Award last year went to former Springfield Cardinals General Manager Matt Gifford.

During the Salute to Travel & Tourism event later this month, the CVB also will honor:
• Gov. Mike Parson with the Diplomat Award, given to government officials or organizations supporting the Springfield-area travel industry;
• MSU with the Spotlight Award, for contributions to advancing travel and tourism;
• Mike Chrispyn, director of the National Street Rod Association, with the Ambassador Award, given for generating an economic impact through an event or convention; and
• Dean Kroencke, a CVB volunteer for nearly two years, with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

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