Edman Wins National Tourism Leadership Award

ST. PAUL -- Explore Minnesota Director and CEO John Edman has been named national State Tourism Director of the Year for 2015. The award is voted upon annually by the U.S. Travel Association's National Council of State Tourism Directors. Edman wa...

John Edman
John Edman

ST. PAUL - Explore Minnesota Director and CEO John Edman has been named national State Tourism Director of the Year for 2015.

The award is voted upon annually by the U.S. Travel Association's National Council of State Tourism Directors. Edman was announced as the winner before more than 800 of his peers Monday at the ESTO annual conference of travel professionals, held this year in Portland, Ore.

"Travel and tourism are a pivotal benefit to any state's economy, but it's a hyper-competitive global market for those dollars that demands an efficient and effective promotion program," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a news release. "This award represents an acknowledgment that under John Edman's leadership, the people of Minnesota are served by one of the very best. John's smarts and work ethic have paid enormous dividends for the industry not just in Minnesota, but nationally as well."

Edman has more than 25 years of senior management, sales and marketing experience in the hospitality industry. As director of Explore Minnesota, Edman is responsible for the development and implementation of tourism plans, policies and programs to promote Minnesota as a travel and tourism destination. He is the state's chief spokesperson for tourism-related issues, and manages an agency with approximately 60 staff and an annual budget of $13.9 million.

Edman was appointed by three governors of three different political parties: Gov. Jesse Ventura (Independent) in 2000, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Republican) in 2003 and 2007, and Gov. Mark Dayton (Democrat) in 2011 and 2015. Edman developed new marketing strategies for Minnesota tourism, creating new public and private marketing partnerships that have generated over $5 million in private industry funding each year. He spearheaded the creation of Minnesota's largest-ever tourism marketing campaign, #OnlyinMN, in 2014.


Edman serves in national and state leadership positions on numerous organizations and boards including: the National Council of State Tourism Directors, the U.S. Travel Association board, Great Lakes USA, Mississippi River Country, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Foundation, and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center.

Prior to entering state government, Edman worked at Carlson Companies in Minneapolis and served as director of marketing for Carlson Destination Marketing Services. The State Tourism Director of the Year award is given to the professional whose leadership has led to the measurable improvement of his or her state's travel and tourism profile. Each year, such success is measured in relationship to the budgetary and staff resources that the director has at their disposal.

Edman is only the second Minnesotan to win the award and the first since Henry Todd in 1982. Candidates are nominated by state/territory tourism directors, and a slate of three finalists is presented for selection by ballot.

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, nonprofit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 15 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.

About Explore Minnesota

As the state's tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota markets Minnesota as a premiere travel destination and pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state's tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations.

Tourism is a $13 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state's economy. The leisure and hospitality industry - a major provider of tourism services - employs more than 250,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota's private sector employment, and also generates 17 percent of the state's sales tax revenues. An estimated 69 million domestic travelers and 270,000 international travelers vacationed in Minnesota in 2013. These figures do not include the 700,000 Canadian travelers who visit Minnesota annually.

See what's happening right now, only in Minnesota, at or on social media, using #OnlyinMN.

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