The meetings, travel, and tourism community paid tribute to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, last Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., by bestowing upon him the Spirit of Hospitality Award.

Each year the Destination & Travel Foundation (formerly the Destination Marketing Association International Foundation), now a joint effort of U.S. Travel and DMAI, honors a key industry player who contributes significant time and effort in promoting and advocating travel and tourism.

Since taking over at the helm of U.S. Travel in January 2005, Dow has been tireless in his efforts to promote recognition of the power and positive impact that travel and tourism have on individuals, communities, and the U.S. and world economies. He was instrumental in the passage and implementation of the Travel Promotion Act, legislation that will help attract millions of new visitors to the U.S.

Before receiving his honor, Dow was one of dozens of men in the 1,000-person audience to get up on stage and dance to “The Twist,” performed by legendary American singer-songwriter Chubby Checker, who entertained the crowd courtesy of the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Another highlight of the evening was video vignettes featuring Dow as the “Most Interesting Man in the World of Travel & Tourism.” The typically clean-shaven exec sported a full mustache and beard (looking like a cross between Ernest Hemingway and Father Christmas) and, with the help of a little trick photography, was shown posing with tourism employees in whimsical settings around the world. PCI Communications produced the video segments.

On receiving the award at the end of the evening, Dow said, “I feel very lucky because I stumbled into this great industry.” (He began his career in hospitality as a lifeguard at the Saddlebrook (N.J.) Marriott in 1970.) “I thank you and I thank my family—not only my personal family, but this family, the travel industry family. I thank you for your support because we are a unique family and we can’t be duplicated by any other industry. We are the travel industry.”