The U.S. Travel Association announced the recipients of the 2019 Destiny and Mercury Awards and the State Tourism Director of the Year at its 36th annual ESTO conference (the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations), held August 17-20 in Austin, TX.

Twenty-three U.S. Travel member organizations were honored for excellence and creative achievements in destination marketing and inspiring the continued development of imaginative promotional programs.

Destiny and Mercury 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 marketing experts from organizations including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Hylink North America, Rich Media Exchange, Ogilvy and the University of South Carolina selected honorees in these two award categories.

Travel Costa Mesa's branding and integrated marketing campaign submission was the winner of the Destiny Awards’ People’s Choice, and Arkansas Tourism’s website submission took home the Mercury Awards’ People’s Choice. Voting for this category was open to U.S. Travel destination marketing members as well as all ESTO delegates. U.S. Travel created the People’s Choice award to add greater delegate engagement to the ESTO awards program and allow for sharing of best practices and inspiration.

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

Brand USA Video Storytelling Award
New this year at ESTO was the presentation of the Brand USA Video Storytelling Award. The award is a showcase of the best in video storytelling by destinations, attractions and points of interest across the U.S. Brand USA President and CEO Christopher L. Thompson presented the awards to representatives from Destination DC and New Mexico Tourism Department in recognition of their compelling and inspiring video content.

State Tourism Director of the Year
The National Council of State Tourism Directors selected Duane Parrish of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism as 2019’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 state-level destination marketing.

Please click here to learn more about Duane Parrish’s selection as State Tourism Director of the Year.


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 for more information.



Cathy Reynolds

Manager, Media Relations and Lead Manager, IPW Press Operations

Email ›

Tim Alford

Manager, Media Relations

Email ›