PROMOTING TOURISM — Emily Marshall speaks at the Madison County Tourism’s Annual Dinner, where she accepted the Champion of Tourism Award on behalf of Dr. Joan M. Johnson. (Photo courtesy Jan Regan)

Madison County Tourism honors Dr. Johnson with award

Published May 20, 2018 at 9:00am

HAMILTON — Madison County Tourism (MCT), the county’s official tourism promotion agency, recently named Dr. Joan M. Johnson as the recipient of the 2018 Emily Marshall Champion of Tourism Award.

The award was posthumously presented to Johnson, who was an associate professor of Travel-Tourism and Hospitality Management at Morrisville State College and co-founder of Madison County Tourism, at MCT’s annual dinner at the White Eagle Banquet and Conference Center in Hamilton.

Truman Hartshorn, Acting President of Madison County Tourism, said, “Joan was an inspiration and a strong leader. And her devotion to tourism, education and Madison County was obvious to all who knew her.”

A graduate of Morrisville-Eaton High School and Morrisville State College, Johnson held the position of associate professor of Travel-Tourism and Hospitality Management at her alma mater since 1991. Her giving personality, prior work experience and education — a BA in Food Service Administration and an MBA from RIT plus a doctorate in Higher Post-Secondary Education from Syracuse University — allowed her to excel in this role where she taught soon-to-be tourism professionals.

Johnson’s Department Chair Kerry Beadle noted, “...It is impossible to overstate the impact that [Joan] has had on the thousands of students and colleagues she has touched during her decades at the College.”

In 1991, Johnson, Emily Marshall and Doris Holmes worked to incorporate the Madison County Tourism Committee, with Johnson serving as President. This organization later became Madison County Tourism, Inc., which remains the county’s official tourism promotion agency marketing the county to visitors across the globe. Johnson served as President of the organization for nearly 27 years.

Tourism is a vital industry in Madison County. According to data from Tourism Economics, visitors spent an estimated $88.9 million in Madison County in 2016. This tourism-related revenue generated local property, sales and occupancy taxes totaling more than $6.1 million, which saved the average Madison County household $412 and sustained nearly 2,100 jobs in the county.

The award, which is given annually to those who have had a significant impact on the tourism industry in Madison County, was accepted on Johnson’s behalf by Emily Marshall, the award’s namesake. 

Marshall said, “If [Joan] wasn’t as active as she was, Madison County Tourism wouldn’t be what it is.”

It is estimated that since MCT’s founding, Madison County has benefitted from $1.7 billion in visitor spending that has generated $107 million in local taxes, which in turn saved the average property tax payer a total of $7,834.

For more information on Madison County Tourism, visit