North Carolina’s Wit Tuttell Named State Tourism Executive of the Year
WHY IT RATES: Tuttell helped devise creative strategies that led to North Carolina becoming one of the most visited states in the country. — Patrick Clarke, TravelPulse Editor
Wit Tuttell, director of Visit North Carolina, has been named National State Tourism Director of the Year for 2022.
Tuttell was announced as the winner in front of more than 1,000 destination marketing professionals at the US Travel Association’s annual conference for Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), the premier annual gathering for destination leaders and Tourism, held this year in Grand Rapids, MI. US Travel’s National Council of State Tourism Directors, an organization representing the official tourist boards of all US states and territories, votes on the award each year before ESTO.
Since assuming the helm of North Carolina’s destination marketing organization in November 2013, Tuttell has led the state through a period of remarkable growth, crafting creative strategies that have helped North Carolina to become one of the most visited states in the country.
Throughout the pandemic, Tuttell has also prioritized effective communication across all 100 counties in the state, hosting a series of webinars that provided partners with crucial information and resources to enable them to facilitate efforts. recovery in their own communities. Tuttell additionally led Count On Me NC, a public health initiative – launched in collaboration with other industry groups and public health officials – which promoted safe travel practices to help businesses reopen following of the pandemic. The program has been adopted in all counties across the state, ensuring alignment with public health messaging.
“The people of North Carolina could not have asked for a better leader to guide the state’s tourism industry through the challenges of the pandemic and back to growth,” said the President and CEO. the outgoing director of the US Travel Association, Roger Dow. “Wit’s aggressive approach to destination marketing was key to ensuring businesses could reopen and safely welcome visitors to the Tar Heel State.
“Wit’s passion for North Carolina shines through Visit NC’s creative and compelling marketing campaigns, which showcase the best of North Carolina’s energy, charm and natural beauty,” added Dow.
After pivoting to promote more contactless travel experiences during the height of the pandemic, Tuttell returned the organization to more active travel promotion in Spring 2021 with a new multi-channel brand campaign, “Return to a Better Place “. Third-party research has determined a staggering 32:1 return in state and local taxes generated per dollar of media investment. Visit NC reports that the campaign boosted the state’s market share, helping it to remain one of the top 5 most visited states in 2021.
“Wit Tuttell has provided extraordinary leadership to one of our state’s most vital industries,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “Wit’s efforts helped North Carolina emerge from the pandemic with record national spending in 2021 and his leadership was instrumental in the creation of Outdoor NC with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. I appreciate Wit’s partnership and efforts to make our state an even better place to live, work and visit for generations to come.
Outdoor NC is a sustainability-focused initiative designed to enhance the enjoyment of outdoor spaces while minimizing ecological impact.
Tuttell and Visit NC have been repeatedly recognized nationally, receiving the US Travel Association’s 2019 Mercury Award for Outstanding Branding and Integrated Marketing and twice named a State Tourism Board of the year by the Southeast Tourism Society. In 2021, Visit NC received a Mercury Award for Advocacy and Grassroots Campaigning, recognition of the exceptional value Tuttell and his team have brought to partners in a time of unprecedented challenges.
Tuttell has 30 years of experience in the tourism industry and has worked for North Carolina Tourism since 2006. He previously worked for Universal Studios Florida and the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. Tuttell has also loaned his expertise to the US Travel Association. Board of Directors and served as Chairman of the Board of Travel South USA.
Nominees for State Tourism Director of the Year are nominated by state and territory tourism directors. A list of three finalists is presented each year for selection by ballot.
THE SOURCE: US Travel Association press release.