News & Resources for the Indiana Tourism Industry

Michael Crowther Receives Tourism Industry’s Highest Honor from Lt. Governor

INDIANAPOLIS (August 17, 2018) –  Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) announced today during the Hoosier Hospitality Awards that the CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, Michael Crowther, is this year’s recipient of the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award. The award announcement was part of the Lt. Governor’s annual Hoosier Hospitality Awards at the Indiana State Fair.

Crowther came to the Indianapolis Zoo in 2002 and during his tenure, the zoo has attracted 1.2 million visitors annually, with 30 percent of the guests in 2017 coming from outside Central Indiana and 14 percent visited from out of state.

“Michael has a vision for innovative, unique exhibits and guest experiences you will not find at any other zoos, like the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which opened in 2014,” Crouch said, “He is a champion for the zoo, animals, conservation and the state of Indiana. Time and time again his creativity and leadership have helped shape Indiana’s tourism profile.”

During his job interview, Crowther developed the concept for Indianapolis Prize, which is the world’s leading award for animal conservation.

“Michael is a tireless champion for our state and for tourism,” said Mark Newman, executive director of IOTD. “He represents his community by serving on boards and committees and has also been instrumental in growing our global reputation with the creation and implementation of the Indianapolis Prize.”

The Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award is presented annually and is the highest tourism honor given by the state. The award is named for the late Will Koch, long-time owner and president of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. The Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the Koch family established the honor to pay tribute to Koch’s many meaningful contributions to tourism, business and society.

“Indiana is the best place I’ve ever lived and worked. People here have an amazing combination of values, wisdom, hard work and thoughtfulness, and it’s a privilege to help share that with the rest of the nation and the world,” Crowther said. “Will Koch embodied those attributes, and I’m truly honored to be associated with any recognition that bears Will’s name.”

Nominations for the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award are submitted by community leaders and members of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Submissions are reviewed by an eight member panel comprised of representatives from Purdue University, the Indiana State Fair, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Grow INdiana Media Ventures, the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association and state tourism leaders.

A video of this year's Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award can be found here.

Crouch and IOTD also presented 17 representatives of the tourism industry the Hoosier Hospitality Award for their high level of service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

Nominations for Hoosier Hospitality Awards are submitted by community members and destination patrons and are reviewed and selected by IOTD. Outstanding service is a major factor in determining whether a person returns to an individual business or destination.

The 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award recipients can be found here.