Cella and Ott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort President Louis Cella and veteran media professional and former Hot Springs resident Bill Ott will be inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame on Feb. 28.

The induction will take place during a noon luncheon at the 48th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Tourism Conference, according to a press release from Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. from Arkansas.

The conference will be held in Fayetteville from February 27 to March 1. The Hall of Fame honor is awarded annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to Arkansas’ tourism industry.

“It’s obviously quite an honor and with everything we’ve done in Oaklawn and with the partnership we have with the City of Hot Springs and Garland County, it’s nice to be recognized and we’re thrilled and honored,” Cella told The Sentinel. -Registration.

Cella was born in St. Louis, Mo., and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington and Lee University in 1987. He later earned a law degree in 1990 from the University of Arkansas, according to the statement.

In 1989, he began working at his family’s companies, Southwestern Enterprises Inc. and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, where he held several positions including Chairman of the Board and President. Cella is the fourth generation of his family to lead Oaklawn.

Oaklawn attracts more than 3 million visitors each year to Hot Springs, one of the state’s largest tourist attractions, and generates more than $30 million in annual direct taxes for the state, city and county. The creation of the Oaklawn Foundation in 2006 has given away more than $10 million, creating a thriving community for tourism, according to the state press release.

“If Hot Springs and our community grows, so does Oaklawn,” he said. “We are still focused on hospitality and tourism and how we can grow Oaklawn.”

Cella’s hobbies include fishing, hunting and golf. Although he, his wife, Rochelle, and their two children live in Laude, Missouri, Cella said they often visit Arkansas.

“We’re going down (to Arkansas) for racing season for the whole season,” he said.

This will be Ott’s 45th time attending the Arkansas Governors’ Conference.

“I’m both humbled and honored to be recognized because I’ve always had great respect for the people they put in the Hall of Fame,” Ott told The Sentinel-Record.

Ott was born in Chicago. A few years later, his family moved to Hot Springs, where he graduated from high school, according to the statement. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 1972. It was then known as Arkansas State Teachers College/State College of Arkansas, where he spent two years in the ROTC program.

He began his career in communications, marketing and hospitality in 1975. He has held numerous positions at iconic Arkansas destinations, including Director of Convention Sales for the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, did he declare.

“It allowed me to see and do things that I never could have done before,” Ott said. “This job has allowed me to do it for 45 years.”

He recently retired from his position as director of marketing and communications for the Crescent Hotel and Spa and the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs. He held these positions for more than 20 years, according to the statement.

Ott contributed to the tourism industry by serving as a national and international press liaison during the 1992 presidential campaign and working with the Miss Arkansas pageant for 41 years.

According to the statement, he enjoys acting, writing poetry and plays, watching old black and white movies and making people laugh. He particularly enjoys volunteering for charities including St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Pastoral Team, Answering The Call and Eureka Christian Health Outreach.

Ott has received several awards, including the Hot Springs Community Service Award and the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Outstanding Volunteer Award, according to the release.

“(It’s) very, very nice to be able to make myself available to do this service because when I serve my fellow man, I also serve my Lord,” he said.

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