2017 Summit Keynote
The River Summit and the Ohio’s Great Corridor Association have been striving for 10 years to develop a regional vision for our riverfront communities, a sense of place for our local citizens, and a destination for our neighbors; all centered around our greatest asset, the Great Miami River. After showcasing various other river cities and their successes, this year’s River Summit is proud to host two keynote speakers, dedicated to tourism in the State of Ohio. Mary Cusick, from TourismOhio, and Melinda Huntley, from Ohio Travel Association, will discuss how tourism plays a major role in economic growth in Ohio, with the numbers to back it up. They will present on the recent Ohio branding initiative focused on keeping Ohioans in their home state and bringing people from out of state here to visit. Mary and Melinda will share new ideas on ways to create the ultimate visitor experience, through unique partnerships and promotion. By aligning our efforts and sharing information with these organizations, we will achieve our next goal of making the Great Miami Riverway a top 10 destination in the Ohio.
Mary is the Director of TourismOhio and leads the state’s efforts to create a marketing plan promoting Ohio as a premier travel destination. TourismOhio strives to make Ohio a destination of choice, enriching lives through authentic travel experiences. TourismOhio aggressively positions Ohio as a relevant travel destination and supports Ohio’s tourism industry to drive economic prosperity throughout the state. In Ohio, tourism marketing programs helped generate 200 million visits to Ohio and $40 billion in sales in 2014. Through social media, blog coverage, publications, advertising co-ops, media missions, brochure distribution, and the ohio.org listing and events database, TourismOhio connects the tourism industry in Ohio with resources they need to market and advertise the abundant and exciting tourist opportunities in our state. Mary loves to explore new Ohio experiences and enjoys Ohio art such as paintings, jewelry, and more.
Melinda is the Executive Director of Ohio Travel Association. She started her travel career in public relations at Cedar Point, then led the Lake Erie Shores and Islands/Ottawa County Visitors Bureau and tackled sustainable tourism opportunities as Tourism Director for Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program. In 2011, she received the Paul Sherlock Award, the highest honor bestowed to an Ohio tourism professional. She has a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the OSU John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
Melinda has witnessed firsthand how communities transform themselves when they promote and improve their unique visitor experiences. In 2012, she brought this energy and focus to Columbus as the director of the Ohio Travel Association. Founded in 1976, the Ohio Travel Association is a trade association comprised of members of the travel and tourism industry in Ohio. OTA’s membership includes all who benefit from a healthy tourism economy, such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, destination marketing organizations, industry suppliers, and others.