Visit Tri-Cities introduces new President and CEO, Kevin Lewis

Visit Tri-Cities held their 53rd annual meeting on local tourism. They introduced their new President and CEO, and presented two local tourism awards.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Visit Tri-Cities held their 53rd annual meeting on local tourism Tuesday afternoon. The goal was to bring together the tourism industry and the community at their first in-person meeting in three years. They also introduced their new President and CEO, Kevin Lewis.

“I started doing a little soul searching to see if now is the right time for a change. The more I looked into Tri-Cities, the more excited I got,” expressed Lewis.

He flew in from Utah just for the annual meeting. Lewis starts with Visit Tri-Cities in December, and he said he’s currently looking for a place to live in the Columbia Basin.

“There’s a real stable economy here. It’s diverse. It’s not all loaded up on one type of industry,” Lewis explained. “There’s a real diverse economic industry.”

At the meeting, Visit Tri-Cities honored tourism successes with their annual awards.

Presentation of the 2022 Kris Watkins Tourism Champion and Excellence in Service Award winners.

Visit Tri-Cities awarded Kathy Powell, Executive Director of the Tri-City Water Follies, with the 2022 Kris Watkins Tourism Champion of the Year award.

The Kris Watkins Tourism Champion of the Year award is the organization’s most prestigious honor.

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Visit Tri-Cities presented the 2022 Excellence in Service award to Tumbleweeds Mexican Flair, owned by Keith Moon.

Tumbleweeds received more than 20 nominations for their customer service and tasty food.

“Pretty incredible. I guess there were 68 nominees, and to be in a sea of that many is quite honoring,” said Moon. “We’re very grateful to have the opportunity to be just a nominee, let alone the winner.”

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Keynote guest Charles Cunningham gave a presentation on tourism trends and how businesses can navigate the new landscape.

Last year, visitors spent nearly $500 million in Benton and Franklin Counties. This included dining, overnight stays, retail shops and recreational activities.

Lewis in particular wants to expand on those outdoor recreations.

“People who participate in those kinds of activities are just enthusiastic. They’re passionate, very energetic people, and so as we invite them into this community they will fit really well with the type of people that are here,” Lewis said.

Overall, Lewis is most excited about the community and the people he’s met so far.

“Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve found just friendly people, very enthusiastic about the place and what they have here and then it just feels comfortable and warm to me,” Lewis said.

He’s been in tourism for 15 years, and started in sports. His latest job was at the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office in St. George, Utah. He said he helped to bring three IRONMAN championships, bringing millions of dollars to the economy.

He’s looking to continue to bring sporting recreation to the region.

“The biggest attraction to me right now is the river. I’m just in love with it. I come from the desert and so when I flew in and I saw this massive river and all the activity, I love water sports,” said Lewis.

READ: Visit Tri-Cities highlights the community’s tourism appeal at 53rd Annual Meeting