Kyle Edmiston of the Louisiana Office of Tourism was named national State Tourism Director of the Year for 2017. Edmiston was announced as the honoree before more than 850 of his peers at the U.S. Travel Association’s annual ESTO conference, held this year in Minneapolis. The U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors—a body representing the tourism offices of all states and U.S. territories—votes on the award annually ahead of ESTO, an annual gathering for destination marketing professionals.

“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 the Pelican State has greatly benefited ... the entire southern region.”

“It is no surprise that Kyle received this prestigious award,” said Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungeser. “Five years of record-breaking tourism 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.”

As Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Edmiston is charged with directing the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s activities promoting, marketing and selling the state as a travel destination for domestic and international visitors. Since Edmiston’s tenure began in 2012, Louisiana has set new records each year for visitation, visitor spending and revenue generated for the state. From 2012-2016, visitation to Louisiana nearly doubled, from 24.3 million to 46.7 million annual visitors. During that same period, visitor spending grew from $10.1 billion annually to $16.8 billion annually, and tax revenue generated for the state general fund grew from $719 million to $1.04 billion.

Importantly, Edmiston has brought a renewed focus on the international traveler to Louisiana’s destination marketing efforts. His office was an early partner of Brand USA, a connection that has paid dividends for Louisiana’s economy: in 2015, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office, Louisiana saw a 36 percent increase in international visitation, the second-highest of any state. Edmiston was instrumental in bringing IPW, an international travel marketplace, to New Orleans in 2016, coordinating seven familiarization trips for international tour operators and media in Louisiana.

Candidates for State Tourism Director of the Year are nominated by a panel of state and territory tourism directors. A slate of three finalists is presented for selection by ballot. The winner is announced at ESTO.