Making music all year long

MANDEVILLE, LA --On February 28, The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) announced that Explore the Northshore, Issue 4, produced by the St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission and published by Midwest Luxury Publishing, won BRONZE in the 28th Annual North American Travel Journalists Awards Competition in the BEST VISITORS’ GUIDE category. This awards competition honors the best of the best in travel journalism, photography and destination marketing that cover all aspects of the travel industry.  

The 2020 NATJA Awards received more than 1,000 entries from the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Awards were made to publications, travel journalists and photographers, and top destination marketing organizations. The St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission was in good company. Winning entries from major publications included The New York TimesBoston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Hemispheres, Travel + Leisure, Air Canada enRoute, and American Way.  First and second place in the BEST VISITORS’ GUIDE category went to the state of Arkansas and the city of Detroit, respectively.

The St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission produces the 40-page inspiration piece twice a year to encourage travel to St. Tammany Parish, and 50,000 copies are distributed in attractions, hotels, restaurants, visitor centers, and to potential travelers who inquire about the Northshore. 

The magazine-style Explore the Northshore Visitor Guide was conceptualized and introduced in 2018 by the Tourist Commission’s former Vice President of Communications, Renée Kientz, and Midwest Luxury Publishing.  Kientz, an award-winning journalist and former Features Editor of the Houston Chronicle, passed away suddenly in early 2019.  Upon Kientz’s death, Christina Cooper was promoted into the role of Vice President of Communications, Marketing and PR, and assumed leadership of the visitor guide project.  

“I think this award is a testament to Renee’s vision of what an editorially driven visitor magazine could be, to Christina’s skill as a writer, editor and content producer, and to the expertise of Midwest Luxury Publishing,” said Donna O’Daniels, President and CEO of the St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission. “This was a dynamic combination from day one, and I’m so proud of this team for earning this coveted award.”

Said Midwest Luxury Publishing’s President and Group Publisher, Adam Pitluk, PhD,“ As someone who has been in travel journalism for 20 years, I can say definitively how selective NATJA is when bestowing awards on writers, editors, and publications. Only the best of the best win medals. The fact that Explore is an international Bronze medal winner after only two years is not just remarkable, but unheard of. This speaks to the talent, vision, and work ethic of the editor, Christina Cooper, and her team as well as the foundation laid by dearly departed editor Renée Kientz.”

For more information about NATJA or a complete list of award winners and honorable mentions, visit  To receive a copy of the award-winning Explore the Northshore Visitor Guide, visit

About North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA)
Founded in 1991, NATJA is a travel journalism industry leader that fosters high quality journalism by supporting the professional development of its members, providing exceptional program benefits and valuable resources, honoring the excellence of journalism throughout the world, and promoting travel and leisure to the general public. NATJA also publishes TravelWorld International Magazine (

About the St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission (STPTCC)
The St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission is a public, quasi-governmental agency created in 1976 by Louisiana Legislature. The STPTCC is responsible for promoting the community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, the STPTCC strengthens the economic position of St. Tammany Parish and provides opportunity and jobs for the community.  Tourism employed more than 11,490 St. Tammany residents in 2018, and tourism revenue saved each St. Tammany Parish household $1,082 in taxes.  St. Tammany Parish is the fourth-largest tourist economy in the State of Louisiana, with visitors spending over $804 million in St. Tammany Parish in 2018 (University of New Orleans study).

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