William A.V. Cecil Tourism Leadership Award

For more than two decades, the William A.V. Cecil Tourism Leadership Award has honored those who have made a significant contribution to the tourism sector in Asheville and Buncombe County and who have provided exceptional leadership in making the community a special place to live and visit.

Created in 1999 as a tribute to the late William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, owner of The Biltmore Company and a champion of the Biltmore Estate’s preservation and success, the award honors the leadership, creativity and commitment of the people who have made it their mission to help guide the tourism sector in Buncombe County.

Recipients of the William A.V. Cecil Award

2023:Matthew Bacoate

2022:Wilma Dykeman (posthumously)

2021: Bhagwanji “Bob” Patel – Virtelle Hospitality, President Emeritus

2020: AIR – Asheville Independent Restaurant Association

2019: Dick Trammel | Tourism pioneer; helped lay the foundation for the growth of the visitor economy

2018: John Ellis | Diana Wortham Theater, retired executive director

2016: Gary Everhardt | Blue Ridge Parkway, former Superintendent

2015: Karen Cragnolin | RiverLink

2014: Pat Whalen | Public Interest Projects

2013: Becky Anderson | Former HandMade in America, Economic Developer, Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Chair

2012: Steve Hill | Thomas Wolfe Memorial

2011: Oscar Wong | Microbrew pioneer, Highland Brewing

2010: Mark Rosenstein | Early advocate of farm-table, Marketplace Restaurant

2009: Senator Martin Nesbitt | NC Senate & sponsor of room tax bill

2008: Lloyd & Leone Kirk | Longtime lodging advocates, Forest Manor Inn

2007: Todd Morse | Chimney Rock Park

2006: Hugh Morton | Grandfather Mountain (posthumously)

2005: John Cram | Blue Spiral & downtown visionary

2004: Ralph Young | Young Transportation

2003: Mary Jaeger Gale | Chimney Rock Park

2002: Craig Madison | Alpha Group & Grove Park Inn

2001: Steve Miller | Biltmore Estate

2000: John Winkenwerder | Hampton Inns

1999:Bobbie Cannon | Mountain Meadows Publications