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Salt & Straw’s Kim Malek offers insights into building successful, locally run business in keynote address

PORTLAND, Ore. – May 7, 2019 – Travel Portland’s 40th Annual Tourism & Hospitality Industry Awards program, held each year in conjunction with the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel & Tourism Week (May 5-11), today recognized a select group of individuals, organizations and businesses for their contributions to the tourism industry over the past year. Travel Portland, the city’s official destination marketing and management organization, honored the award recipients, celebrated the year’s successes and shared plans for the future at a luncheon at the Oregon Convention Center.

Kim Malek, CEO and co-founder of Salt & Straw presented the keynote address, in which she offered insights into her fast-growing, family-run company’s legendary culture of hospitality and the value of doing things the right way — even when that’s also the hard way. Additionally, Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Travel Portland, presented more details about the organization’s tourism master plan and recognized the impact of the citywide Charity Cocktail program

“Portland’s tourism industry remains thriving and vibrant,” said Miller. “Our partners are creating memorable experiences for visitors and residents alike, and their efforts are making a measurable economic impact on our region. What’s more, our partners have banded together to support the less fortunate in our community, participating in a citywide Charity Cocktail program that has resonated with guests from near and far.”

According to the latest report from Dean Runyan Associates, Portland’s tourism industry continued to expand in 2018. Last year, travel spending by visitors to the Portland metro area grew to $5.3 billion, a 4.0% increase over spending in 2017. Earnings rose to $1.5 billion, representing a 9.6% increase over 2017. Industry employment ticked up at a faster rate than the previous year – 3.0% versus 2.2% the previous year – and now counts 36,360 jobs in the region. 

As a way to share success, the hospitality industry has rallied around an initiative launched by Travel Portland in 2018, the Charity Cocktail program, to address homelessness. The brainchild of Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s general manager, Ryan Kunzer, the Charity Cocktail program was adopted and expanded by Travel Portland after Kunzer shared the success of the program in his property. Today, participating restaurants, bars and hotels create and feature a specialty cocktail, from which one dollar of the sales proceeds is contributed to the Portland Charity Cocktail donation fund. Twice yearly, Travel Portland presents a check to a designated nonprofit serving people experiencing homelessness. Currently, 36 restaurants and bars have joined the program, and a full list of participants can be found at

To date, the Charity Cocktail program has raised over $26,000, and two nonprofit beneficiaries were recognized for their important work at the awards ceremony, including:

-      Roma Peyser and George Devendorf of Transition Projects, which connects people living on the streets in downtown Portland with essential resources and support services to help them end their homelessness and transition to permanent housing.

-      Jessica Elkan for New Avenues for Youth, which helps young people develop the necessary skills for gaining and retaining employment in the tourism and hospitality industry, while fostering a pipeline of talent for the region’s growing tourism sector. 

Finally, Travel Portland recognized key partners in maintaining the region’s momentum as a desirable travel destination. Travel Portland’s 2019 Tourism & Hospitality Industry Awards and recipients included: 

President’s Awards

Travel Portland grants two President’s Awards, which recognize valuable contributions to Portland’s tourism industry by individuals, organizations or businesses. This year’s recipients included:

-      Mercatus, a program developed by Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency, for its work on “My People’s Market,” a gathering of more than 80 local multicultural businesses that represent Portland’s diverse and vibrant entrepreneurs, makers, artists, culinary wizards and beverage crafters.

-      The Hollywood Theatre was recognized for its dedication to preserving and promoting Oregon’s film history and filmmakers, as well as for supporting diverse programming and events.

Rose City Award

Explore Washington Park received the Rose City Award, which honors a significant contribution to the promotion of tourism, for working to make sure that Portland’s visitors have a great experience in one of our most treasured attractions. 

Twin Spires Award

The Ocean Sciences Meeting claimed the Twin Spires Award, which honors an individual or association that has made a significant contribution to the promotion of convention business in Portland, for bringing to Portland the largest international gathering of ocean scientists, engineers, students, educators, and policy-makers to share research and education.

Sustainability Award

Biketown won the Sustainability Award, recognizing an individual or association that has fostered environmentally friendly business practices or programs that enhance Oregon’s exceptional quality of life, for making it easier than ever for visitors to explore Portland by bike and for promoting cultural diversity, equity and accessibility. 

Portland Award

Chef Vitaly Paley was presented the Portland Award, recognizing the greatest overall contribution to the promotion of Portland’s visitor industry, for helping to create, promote and expand Portland’s reputation as a top culinary destination.

About Travel Portland:

Travel Portland is the official destination marketing and management organization for the city of Portland, Oregon. Its mission is to generate travel demand that drives economic impact for Portland. For more information on Travel Portland, visit