The U.S. Travel Association announced the recipients of the 2017 Mercury and Destiny Awards, State Tourism Director of the Year and DMO Rising Star during its 34th annual ESTO conference, held August 26-29 in Minneapolis.

Twenty-eight U.S. Travel members were honored for excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing and inspiring the continued development of imaginative promotional programs.

Mercury and Destiny Awards

The Destiny Awards recognize excellence in destination marketing on the local and regional level, while the Mercury Awards recognize this achievement on the state level. A judging panel of business leaders from companies including JPMorgan Chase and Hilton selected a total of 25 winners for these two award programs.

A full list of the Mercury and Destiny Award recipients is available online.

State Tourism Director of the Year

The National Council of State Tourism Directors (NCSTD) selected Kyle Edmiston of the Louisiana Office of Tourism as 2017’s State Tourism Director of the Year. This annual award recognizes a state tourism director who has successfully raised the profile of his or her state as a travel and tourism destination. Each year’s honoree is selected by a panel of their peers; prior to ESTO, state tourism directors from all U.S. states and territories vote for the individual exhibiting the most impressive achievements in destination marketing.

DMO Rising Stars

The Destinations Council named Casey Knopik and Aaron Liersemann, both Destination Development Specialists for Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, as the 2017 DMO Rising Stars of the Year. This award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have worked for a destination marketing organization for three years or less, but have already made significant contributions to the travel and tourism industry.

View all ESTO award finalists and winners here.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



Cathy Keefe Reynolds

Manager, Media Relations

Jamie Morris

Manager, Media Relations