Princeton, NJ – September 16th, 2015 – The Princeton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau and Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the first annual Toast to Tourism Awards, this morning, Tuesday, September 15th, 2015, from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. at Grounds for Sculpture. The ceremony began with a warm welcome and thank you to the tourism community from Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. Brian Tyrrell of Stockton College and Travel and Tourism Training and Research Associates presented “The 2014 Economic Impact of Tourism in the Princeton Region” study. The study showed that Mercer County had two billion in tourism expenditure in 2014, which is the fifth year in a row that spending has increased in the region. It was also 18.5% higher than the pre-recession level of $1.7 billion in 2007. County Executive Brian Hughes also introduced the new Mercer County Branding Campaign, designed by the Princeton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau in conjunction with Mercer County and EFK Group.


“Visitors come to Mercer County because of our historic sites, renowned arts and cultural offerings, outstanding recreational facilities, and our colleges and universities. Through our new branding campaign we hope to capitalize on all these assets and more as we work to make tourism an even greater economic driver for Mercer County and the region,” said Mercer County Executive, Brian M. Hughes.


The Awards Breakfast honored leaders in the tourism industry who have enhanced and expanded tourism through their enthusiasm, passion, and dedication, and have made a significant promotional and economic impact in the industry in the Princeton-Mercer Region. The Salute to Service Award was presented to Phyllis Oppenheimer of the New Jersey State Department of Travel and Tourism; The Tribute to Tourism Award was presented to Trenton Thunder. The Praise for Performance Award was presented to two exemplary frontline employees who have demonstrated superior service above and beyond the call of duty. This year’s honorees were Sivian Ben-Gad of the Peacock Inn and  Larry Ciccone of the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal .


“The tourism industry in the Princeton-Mercer Region has so much to be proud of in terms of its contributions to the local economy. The Toast to Tourism event was an opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments, and the individuals who have helped pave the way for tourism in the region,” said Peter Crowley, President & CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.