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Press Releases and TTIA Member News: Alliance News

Thomas Wilhelm Received TTIA Rising Star Award

Thursday, October 13, 2016  
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Thomas Wilhelm, CTE, Marketing and Branding Manager for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Receives Rising Star Award


(Austin, TX), October 13, 2016 – In honor of his passion for Texas tourism, statewide leadership, and the continual pursuit of excellence with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA), in conjunction with Southwest Airlines, presented its Rising Star award to Thomas Wilhelm, CTE, marketing and branding manager for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Mr. Wilhelm received the award on Oct. 11 during the association’s 31st Annual Texas Travel Summit held in Houston.


"On behalf of TTIA's members and Southwest Airlines, I am pleased to recognize Thomas as a Rising Star in Texas travel & tourism," said David Teel. "He helped reinvigorate the relationship between state parks, cities, destinations, other tourism advocates and TTIA, strengthening both the travel industry and the state park system."  


After completing his Certified Tourism Executive (CTE) designation from TTIA's Travel & Tourism College, the first from Texas Parks & Wildlife, Thomas established the State Park Promotions Team. This is a 20-person team of state park field staff dedicated to enhancing the marketing and promotion of the state park system through direct outreach and the creation of vital tourism partnerships. Since the initiation of the Promotions Team, state park involvement in tourism efforts have expanded exponentially, including record state park presence at TTIA's Unity Dinner, TTIA's Travel & Tourism College, Texas Travel Summit, Texas Travel Counselors Conference, and other industry events.


“I know I’m biased, but I am convinced that your state parks, those 93 natural retreats, which dot this great state from edge to edge are the crown jewels of Texas,” said Wilhelm in his acceptance speech. “They help tell of the legend and grandeur of Texas, what makes this iconic piece of land unique, and I am blessed, in turn, to be able to tell their story, every day. If this award represents in anyway some sort of great thing I have done, know that it is due to the influences of an incredible industry.”


The Rising Star award is presented by Southwest Airlines is awarded to a young professional in the Texas travel & tourism industry who is recognized for their accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, and commitment to the industry and TTIA. 


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The Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) is a non-profit organization made up of businesses, organizations, associations and individuals dedicated to developing Texas tourism to its fullest potential. TTIA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Texas by strengthening travel and tourism. For more information about the Texas Travel Industry Association, visit or contact the office in Austin at (512) 328-8842.


Southwest Airlines is the Presenting Sponsor of TTIA’s Rising Star Award.

Note to Media:  

Photographs of the awards ceremony: (Thomas Wilhelm),_Thomas_Wilhelm_&.jpg (David Teel, Thomas Wilhelm and Davis Phillips)


A video presentation is also available at TTIA’s YouTube Channel at