SOMERSET, KY ― The spotlight is shining on southern and eastern Kentucky as a tourist destination, thanks to The Kentucky Wildlands regional marketing initiative. The Kentucky Wildlands website, social media campaigns and print advertising are designed to draw attention to the region every day, and they recently attracted praise from leaders in marketing and tourism.

The Kentucky Tourism Industry Association presented both a Gold and Distinct Traverse Award for Excellence in Tourism Marketing to The Kentucky Wildlands social media debut, as well as a Silver Traverse Award to the first-ever print ad for The Kentucky Wildlands.

The Kentucky Wildlands tourism website ( received a Gold MarCom Award from the international Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

“It is humbling and validating to know that industry leaders have put their seal of approval on The Kentucky Wildlands campaign,” said Tammie Nazario, who directs the campaign by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc. “We are grateful to the local tourism leaders across the region who have partnered to make this vision a reality.”

“For our small staff at The Kentucky Wildlands, this region is our home, and it is a labor of love to sing its praises to potential tourists, so we are so proud to know this marketing initiative is successful,” she added. “We were able to accept the KTIA awards in person at a ceremony in Louisville, and tears were flowing for sure! It was so special to see our region take centerstage at a statewide tourism event.”

The KTIA Traverse Award competition was judged by a panel of out-of-state travel and tourism industry experts. Award criteria include concept, creativity, results and impact. Over 110 entries were submitted from across Kentucky.

According to KTIA president and CEO Hank Phillips, “This year’s Traverse Awards are especially significant since they were not presented last year because of the cancellation of our conference due to the coronavirus. Therefore, the awards span a pre-pandemic period as well as the period during which the tourism industry was being devastated by the pandemic economic crisis. Whether before or during the pandemic, the entries reflected the enormous creativity and marketing savvy that has propelled tourism to being a premier driver of the Kentucky economy and the source of jobs and enhanced quality of life for Kentucky families.”

The MarCom Awards honor excellence in marketing and communication while recognizing the creativity, hard work and generosity of industry professionals. MarCom is one of the largest, most-respected creative competitions in the world. The Kentucky Wildlands website was among more than 6,000 entries from the United States, Canada and 39 other countries.