LA Office Of Tourism Asst. Sec. Edmiston Named National State Tourism Director Of The Year
BATON ROUGE – The U.S. Travel Association named Louisiana Office of Tourism assistant secretary Kyle Edmiston its State Tourism Director of the Year for 2017 during the annual Education Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference held this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ESTO is the premier annual professional development gathering for destination marketing professionals.
“It’s no surprise Kyle received this prestigious award,” said Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Five years of record-breaking visitation numbers to Louisiana and new, exciting initiatives rolled out to increase the visitor’s experience are just a few reasons this award is well-deserved. I also want to applaud our tourism staff, travel partners and the U.S. Travel Association for working with us to attract new and returning visitors to get that unique, authentic Louisiana experience.”
“Louisiana tourism numbers are stronger than ever thanks to Kyle and his team at the Louisiana Office of Tourism, and this award is an acknowledgement of his years of outstanding work and commitment to our industry,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. “Kyle’s forward thinking commitment to increasing international and out-of-state visitation to Louisiana has done wonders for the state’s economy. Quite simply, he is proof that state tourism promotion works. Kyle’s incredibly effective advocacy for travel to Louisiana has greatly benefited not just the people of Louisiana, but the entire southern region and our nation’s economy as a whole.”
In his role as assistant secretary, Edmiston oversees the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s promotion, marketing and selling the state as a desired travel destination to domestic and international visitors. Under Edmiston’s oversight, Louisiana has seen record-breaking numbers each year for visitation, spending and tax revenue generated for the state. Since 2012, the number of visitors to Louisiana has doubled, from 24.3 million in 2012 to 46.7 million in 2016. During that same time, visitor spending increased from $10.1 billion to $16.8 billion and annual tax revenue generated for Louisiana increased from $719 million to $1.04 billion.
Edmiston was instrumental in bringing a renewed focus on the international traveler, leading to an increase of 36 percent in international visitation in 2015, the second-highest of any state. Additionally, Edmiston worked tirelessly to bring the U.S. Travel Association’s premier travel marketplace, IPW, to New Orleans in 2016, reps said. As part of the events for IPW, he worked with CVBs and travel partners around the state to coordinate seven familiarization trips for tour operators and media reaching every corner of Louisiana.
To further promote and increase international visitation to Louisiana, Edmiston collaborated with a team of industry influencers to land new, direct air service into New Orleans. In March 2017, British Airways began direct service four days a week from London’s Heathrow Airport to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Starting in November, British Airways will increase service to five days a week. Then, in May 2017, Condor Airlines began flying seasonal flights, May through September, from Frankfurt, Germany, to New Orleans. This new air service are the first direct flights from Europe to fly to New Orleans since being suspended following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Also under Edminston’s leadership, the Louisiana Office of Tourism received six national awards including: State Tourism Office of the Year; a Gold Adrian Award in Digital Marketing Excellence for Destination Recipe Video Series; three Mercury Awards for Best Travel Website, Best Social Media Campaign and Judges’ Choice for Best Overall Campaign for Destination Recipe Video Series; and an American Advertising Award—Judges’ Choice Digital Marketing for Louisiana Libations.
On a national level, Edmiston is the immediate past chairman for Travel South USA’s board of directors and serves on the board of directors for Brand USA and the Southeast Tourism Society. He also serves on U.S. Travel Association’s board of directors executive committee.
“Kyle has been the ultimate state partner for New Orleans,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO Stephen Perry. “Never before have we had so many joint partnerships, international successes, and such a united approach to presenting and innovatively marketing New Orleans and Louisiana together to the world. No one has ever been as deserving of an award as this recognition of Kyle.”
Mark Romig, chairman of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Board and president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., praised Kyle for his accomplishments and successes. "We could not be more proud of Kyle and his accomplishments,” he said. “He is one of the first state directors to partner Brand USA with our fellow Louisiana DMOs to create a cooperative international marketing effort which, in one year, increased our international business 34 percent! In the five years since Kyle has led the Office of Tourism under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor, Louisiana has set new records each year for visitation, economic impact and state tax revenue generated. As you know, that's not an easy feat in today’s economic environment, and our year ahead looks even more promising."
"The growth our Louisiana tourism industry has seen is nothing short of remarkable and has come as a direct result of Kyle's leadership, creativity and desire to create strong, lasting partnerships in both domestic and international marketing,” said Jill Kidder, president and CEO of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. “In his more than five years in the leadership role, the Louisiana Office of Tourism has steadily set new records, including a nearly 45 percent growth in state tax revenue generated by the industry. These significant accomplishments under Kyle's leadership have raised the profile of Louisiana's tourism industry in the eyes of our elected officials and continue to successfully communicate the industry's strong return on investment."
“Kyle has played an important and major role in leading the State’s tourism efforts and promoting Louisiana as the culinary and cultural destination,” Paul J. Arrigo, CDME, Visit Baton Rouge president and CEO, said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without his expertise and we look forward to working together with him on many more endeavors.”
“Kyle is a tremendous leader in tourism and I am proud to call him my friend,” said Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission President and CEO Ben Berthelot. “He has great vision, and relationships across the country which benefit us all. Most importantly, he always answers the phone when I and colleagues across the state call, which is most appreciated. All of us in Lafayette, the Happiest City in America, congratulate him on this well-deserved honor."
“Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston has a heart for promoting everything that is unique in Louisiana,” said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the Lake Charles/ Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. “He consistently reaches out to tourism partners across Louisiana and creates programs and partnerships to bring out the best of who we are as a state.”
A native of Ruston, Louisiana, and graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Edmiston served as director of alumni relations at Louisiana Tech and president and CEO of the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he led efforts increase visitation to Ruston and Lincoln Parish.
“Kyle could not be more deserving of this honor,” said Travis Napper, president and CEO of Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau. “He has been a friend and mentor to me for about 15 years, dating back to his pre-tourism days. His rise within the industry has been fascinating, and is a testament to his passion for travel and tourism. His display of industry knowledge and unending desire to not be satisfied with the status quo make him respected industry wide.”
“This award speaks to the leader that Kyle has been for Louisiana's tourism industry,” said Timothy Bush, president and CEO of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. “I had the pleasure of working with Kyle while he was president and CEO of the Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, and I saw his dedication to our industry every single day. Since becoming the assistant secretary, he has continued to be a strong advocate and positive voice for promoting Louisiana and all that it has to offer. Kyle is a shining example of an industry leader. I'm very proud to call him a friend and mentor.”
A panel of state and U.S. territory tourism directors nominate candidates for State Tourism Director of the Year. Three finalists are then selected by ballot. The U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors votes on the award prior to ESTO.