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  • Writer's picturePress Release


Words and Images Courtesy of Norfolk Tourism Foundation

The Norfolk Tourism Foundation is ending 2022 on a positive note

with an impactful year that started with the announcement of a new Foundation Director, recognized

local businesses with hospitality awards, supported local students attending industry events and hosted

a successful charity golf tournament resulting in scholarships for students.

The Foundation announced Kelsey Backe as its new Director in March touting her strong experience and

local knowledge.

During National Travel and Tourism week in the Spring, hospitality award winners received gifts from

local businesses, while the Peter G. Decker, Jr. Hospitality Associate of the Year award went to Iryna

Kostivchekno, a server at D’Egg Bistro in Downtown Norfolk. Iryna is a Ukrainian citizen who came over

to join the workforce eight years ago.

“Norfolk’s tourism industry and the visitor economy are driven by our hospitality workers,” said Backe.

“We are thankful for the sponsorship from the Norfolk Airport Authority for making these awards


The Norfolk Tourism Foundation also held its 19 th Annual Gourmet Golf Tournament. Played in a new

location this year, Sewells Point historic golf course, Townebank returned as the Title sponsor. A sold-

out tournament with 20+ foursomes along with sponsorships from local businesses raised more money

than past years. The Foundation partnered with the CROP Foundation and students from the Norfolk

Public Schools culinary program to cater themed snacks on the course for the golfers and helping

students to learn how to craft meals for large events. Event sponsors included, MacArthur Center, Judy

Boone Realty, City Experiences, City of Norfolk Economic Development Authority, Millers Energy, S.L.

Nusbaum Realty, Hummingbird Macaroons, COVA Brewing and Lou Hammond Group.

Money raised from the tournament allowed the Foundation to donate $7,600 to underwrite

scholarships for students of the CROP Foundation. The CROP Foundation works to foster educational

and employment opportunities for innovative culinary students and was founded by Kip Poole, mentor

at Commune restaurant and competitor on HBO's "The Big Brunch" hosted by Dan Levy.

Norfolk played hosted to the VA-1 Governor’s Summit on Tourism in November and the Foundation

reached out to local schools and universities to sponsor students’ attendance to network and learn from

leaders in our industry. The Foundation sponsored 25 students total from Norfolk State University,

Tidewater Community College and Connect with a Wish at this event.

Thanks to her hard work and dedication, Foundation Director Backe was named among Virginia

Business’s 100 People to Meet in 2023 as a member of the New Faces Category. This honor is indicative

of the impact the Foundation has on the wider community.

“It has been a particularly rewarding year for the City of Norfolk and the Norfolk Tourism Foundation,

and we expect even greater things in 2023,” said Backe. “The foundation’s efforts are community-driven

and could not be done without the help of so many industry partners and supporters who make this city

the special place it is for visitors and residents alike.”

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About the Norfolk Tourism Foundation

Founded in 2004, The Norfolk Tourism Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) charitable non-profit organization and

exists to support the Heart of the Tourism Industry, our workers and students who make our industry

come alive. The Foundations mission is to support our workforce, community partners, and a robust

city-wide tourism industry through research and education.

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