Local civil rights activist Opal Lee and Tokyo Café Chef Kevin Martinez were honored during the Visit Fort Worth annual meeting and breakfast on Friday, Feb. 5.
Both were honored for their contributions to the city’s hospitality industry. Martinez received the 2021 Beyond Award for his service during the pandemic that helped facilitate 48,000 free meals for service industry workers out of a job.
Lee received the 2021 Hospitality Award for her crusade to make Fort Worth a more welcoming community and her work to create a national holiday for Juneteenth, the day the Civil War-era Emancipation Proclamation was announced in Texas.
In 2020, Lee realized a longtime dream and collected 1.5 million signatures on a petition to create a national holiday for Juneteenth,
A video about Opal Lee was created by Fort Worth’s own Adam Dietrich and Elliott Gilbert, who worked on the 2020 documentary “Legends and Legacies: Commentaries on Fort Worth’s African American History.”
During the event, Visit Fort Worth showcased ways to move tourism forward at its annual meeting and breakfast at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel. Sponsored by Pinnacle Bank, the sold-out event “The Way Forward” was re-imagined for social distancing.
“There were two goals for this event: celebrate the city we want to be and demonstrate we can have a gathering with a priority on health and safety,” said Bob Jameson, president and CEO of Visit Fort Worth. “With high standards, we have to find ways to help people get back to work and make tourism even stronger for Fort Worth.”
The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with over 140 million jobs lost globally. Visit Fort Worth President and CEO Bob Jameson outlined priorities to help bring tourism back to the destination for the long run.
• Rebuild the hospitality industry. The recovery is underway with support from growing leisure visitors – drawn to attractions such as the new Mule Alley in the Stockyards, Fort Worth Zoo and Botanic Garden – and a strong schedule of sports events. In June, Fort Worth will host the Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of bass fishing, and the NASCAR All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway.
• Invest in creativity. The first-ever economic impact report of the local music economy was unveiled during the meeting. The report was created in partnership with Hear Fort Worth and Sound Diplomacy – a London-based policy consultancy with expertise in developing long-term music strategies – and showcases the value music brings to Fort Worth through jobs, ticket sales, visitation and more.
• Support and showcase Fort Worth growth industries such as healthcare, mobility and logistics by attracting meetings and conventions in those areas. Visit Fort Worth also announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. The partnership will lead to the two organizations sharing marketing and research resources, collaborate to grow sports tourism and to help build business here through meetings.
With support from event sponsors, Visit Fort Worth made a $10,000 donation to the United Way of Tarrant County’s Creative Industry Relief Fund that provides grants to musicians, filmmakers, artists and other creatives out of work during the pandemic. For more information about the event, visit www.fortworth.com/about/annual-2021