Sara Otte Coleman has spent the past 31 years working in the tourism industry in North Dakota. Since 2003, she has been the North Dakota Tourism Director and in August, she was named national State Tourism Director of the Year for 2018, an award given to the professional whose leadership has led to the measurable improvement of his or her state’s travel and tourism profile.
Sara was presented the honor before her peers at the U.S. Travel Association’s annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference, held this year in Phoenix, Arizona. 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.
“This award is extra special because my peers voted on it. That’s humbling because they are a smart group from all 50 states and U.S. territories. We’ve been working hard to tell the North Dakota story, and when other states dramatically outspend us, it really is a testament to my staff and the work we’ve been able to do. Our North Dakota culture keeps us from bragging, but our state really is something to brag about.”
As the state tourism director, Sara is charged with directing industry development, strategic planning, statewide branding, marketing and media relations, stakeholder engagement, and visitor services. While she is proud of each campaign she’s worked on, Sara says the campaign with Minot native Josh Duhamel has been one of the highlights of her career.