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Walton County TDC Announces Malcolm Patterson as Hospitality Award Winner

October 18, 2013 by SoWal Staff

The Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) named Malcolm Patterson as its 2013 Van Ness Butler,Jr. Hospitality Award recipient yesterday during the TDC’s Annual Meeting. Each year, the TDC recognizes a pioneer in the tourismindustry with the prestigious award, bestowed upon a community member for his or her visionary leadership in helping to shape South Waltoninto a premier tourist destination. 

“Each year,members of the local community nominate individuals who give atremendous amount of support to the tourism industry in South Walton to which we are very grateful. Malcolm’s contributions are the perfect representation of the spirit this award exudes and he is very deserving of this designation,” said TDC Executive Director Jim Bagby to those in attendance. 

Patterson was the Walton County TDC's first executive director and one of South Walton's original tourism advocates in 1988. He championed beach access for visitors by acquiring seven parcels of federal property, directed the development of 26 public beach accesses and began the TDC's oversight of cleaning the beaches. He negotiated the lease with the state of Florida for two acres of land to build a Visitor Information Center and created the first TDC website to serve visitors. He established the South Walton Sports Fest Triathlon and promoted the Fine Arts Festival, which is now ArtsQuest.

Patterson understood the value of working cooperatively as a region and established the Northwest Florida Tourism Council, and served as a charter member of The Florida Commission on Tourism. He hired in-house marketing and public relations professionals and doubled awareness of the destination by advocating the configuration of the Florida state map to include South Walton and Northwest Florida. He coordinated recovery efforts after storms such as Opal,oil on the beaches caused by an oil spill in Tampa in 1994 and ships dumping in the Gulf. Patterson advocated for community involvement and hosted the first TDC Annual Meeting to keep the tourism industry and community informed and engaged. Mr. Patterson has been a pioneer in the tourism industry for nearly 25 years and is extremely deserving of the Van Ness Butler, Jr. Award.

Patterson joins a group of highly respected individuals who have been instrumental in shaping South Walton’s tourism industry and have taken a leadership role in responsible growth. The Van Ness Butler,Jr. Hospitality Award was named after and first presented to Van Ness Butler, Jr. in honor of his outstanding leadership and continuing his family’s legacy in making South Walton a leading, upscale destination. Each year, the Walton County TDC accepts nominations for individuals with an active role in the tourism industry. For more information about South Walton, please visit www.VisitSouthWalton.comor contact the Visitor’s Center at (800) 822-6877.

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