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Nominations for the 30th Annual Tourism Professional of the Year Now Open

Nominations for the 30th Annual South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award are now being accepted.The nominees will be honored at the award luncheon, hosted by the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT) Advisory Board, on September 30, 2021 at the Hyatt Regency Miami, the event’s Host Sponsor. The luncheon MC will be WSVN’s Belkys Nerey.The deadline for Tourism Professional of the Year nominations is August 30, 2021 and the nomination form can be found at

The luncheon Master of Ceremonies, five time Emmy award winning journalist Belkys Nerey, was born in Havana and raised in Long Island and Miami. Completely bilingual, she started her television career as a reporter for a South Florida cable station. In 1994, she joined WSVN-7 and during her tenure at the Miami Fox affiliate, Ms. Nerey has covered major news stories and, up until recently, co-anchored the pop-culture driven Deco Drive. She is currently anchoring the 5,6,10 and 11pm newscasts on WSVN-7.

The featured speakers of the luncheon will include celebrity chef, Michelle Bernstein, and Florida International University Dean, Dr. Michael Cheng.

Chef Michelle Bernstein - Born and raised in Miami of Jewish and Latinx descent, Chef Michelle “Michy” Bernstein is a fixture in the culinary world — both in restaurant kitchens and in the media spotlight — paving the way for bright Latin flavors and standout ingredients in her lively, vibrant cuisine. Bernstein’s style melds taste experiences from her travels around the world into her signature style of exciting, eclectic cooking.

Dr. Michael Cheng is the Dean at the top-ranked Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, where he is transforming hospitality, starting with the learner experience. Dr. Cheng has subject matter expertise in competency-based learning, hospitality management, Culinology®, food product development, restaurant development, sensory analysis, and food and beverage management.

In addition to the Hyatt Regency Miami being the Host Sponsor of the event, Show Tech, a South Florida based audio visual production company, is supporting the event as a Signature Sponsor. REEF, the largest operator of mobility, logistics hubs, and neighborhood kitchens in North America is a Platinum Sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors will be announced in the coming weeks.

Distinguished past recipients of the Tourism Professional of the Year Award include Alyce M. Robertson, Miami Downtown Dev. Authority, George Neary, Tours “R” Us, Wendy Kallergis, GMBHA, Henry Delgado, Smith & Wollensky, Rocco Angelo, Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, William Talbert, III, Alvin West, Sr. GMCVB, and Academy Founders, Stuart Blumberg, Retired, Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, Bob Dickinson, Retired, Carnival Cruise Lines, and the late Tony Goldman, Goldman Properties, Jeanne Westphal, and Dean Lee Dickson, FIU.

The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism is a member of the non-profit, NAF. For over thirty years, NAF has refined a proven model that provides young people access to industry-specific curricular, work-based learning experiences and prepares them for college and industry careers. Academies are in 16 Miami public high schools. Proceeds of the luncheon benefit work-based learning activities and scholarships for AOHT students and professional development for teachers.

Tickets for the Tourism Professional of the Year Award luncheon are $125.00 for an individual ticket or $1000 for a table/vendor sponsorship. Educators may purchase individual tickets for $80.00 and a table for $800.

To purchase tickets for the luncheon, go to

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of AOHT


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