Eye On Boise

New tourism chief sees international image change

Idaho's new state tourism director says she's seen a "seismic shift" in the perception of the state overseas. "People are starting to place us in the mountains, which is where we belong, versus we grow potatoes and we're somewhere in the Midwest, one of those 'I' states," said Karen Ballard. She knows, because she's been attending international tourism trade shows for more than a decade on behalf of Idaho. Ballard handled international tourism development for the state Commerce Department before being promoted to the top tourism job to replace Carl Wilgus, who left after 20 years.

Ballard credits the image shift to a four-state international marketing plan that's been pitching Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota to the European vacation market. She said it first became apparent about three years ago. Not that she has anything against the lowly potato. "People like potatoes and they want to eat a potato when they're here," she said. Among the messages she'd like to get out: Potatoes grow where there's high elevation, clear days, sunshine and cool nights. "The things that make for great potatoes are the things that make for a great vacation." You can read my full story here from Saturday’s Spokesman-Review.




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