Shining Stars: 38 recognized during National Tourism Week luncheon


During the 18th annual Tourism Partners Luncheon at the Historic Train Depot, VisitHATTIESBURG recognized thirty-eight Shining Stars as part of its National Travel and Tourism Week celebrations.

The Shining Star awards are Hattiesburg’s only service-industry award for its local tourism sector. Each year, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other tourism partners nominate outstanding individuals from their organizations who display excellence in hospitality and customer service.

“Hattiesburg is filled with Shining Stars in the hospitality industry, and we are thrilled to honor a record number of recipients this year,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG.

Their hard work and enthusiasm create positive impressions for nearly 2 million visitors each year. These front-line professionals are valuable to our community, and we are so appreciative of them.” 

VisitHATTIESBURG celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week all week, highlighting this year’s theme “Travel Matters.” Weeklong events showcase tourism’s important role in Hattiesburg’s economic growth, while also recognizing outstanding local individuals in the hospitality industry.

During the awards luncheon, Mayor Toby Barker officially proclaimed the week “Tourism Week in Hattiesburg.”  This proclamation highlighted the economic contributions of Hattiesburg’s hospitality sector, which supported approximately 4,470 jobs, hotel and restaurant growth, and partnerships with local organizations through a new grant program. Additionally, VisitHATTIESBURG presented a $292 million check to the city symbolizing 2018’s overall visitor spending in Hattiesburg.

The 2019 Shining Star recipients included:

• Baymont Inn and Suites – Abbigail Smith, Trudy Dunaway

• Candlewood Suites – Noah Wood, Sharon Gholar - Candlewood Suites

• City of Hattiesburg – Akira Lewis, Charles Page, Jay Hester, Skip Matthews

• Coca-Cola Bottling Company United – Haley White

• Comfort Suites – Sue Gann -

• Courtyard by Marriott – Rebecca Odum

• DoubleTree by Hilton Hattiesburg – Cheyenne Palmer

• Fairfield Inn & Suites –  Karen Knight

• Hampton Inn and Home2Suites – Ashley Smith, Chris Tanner, Maggie Swindall, Maya Kristman, Tanya Saldana -

• Hilton Garden Inn –  Connie Shelton, Keith Wooding, Rhonda Bolton, Zuleika Saucier

• Holiday Inn Hattiesburg North – Annie Harris,  Jackie Jones, Latibbiyatta Evans, Marcus Jones, Ross Brent, Sunny Ezell

• Hotel Indigo – Anitra Anderson, Brittany Davis, Cody Scarbroug , Lonny Nelson, Scott Letteri, Wanda McGee - Hotel Indigo

• Keg and Barrel – Kelly Lopez

• Residence Inn by Marriott Hattiesburg – Santrice Sansom -

• Snapshot Publishing – Leigh Reeves

• TownePlace Suites – Lashunda Barnes