Karen Ballard is Idaho’s new top tourism official, replacing Carl Wilgus, who held that post for the past 20 years. Ballard is a 15-year employee of Idaho’s state tourism division, who also worked earlier for Elkhorn Resort in Sun Valley and has worked as a consultant for various professional associations and hotels in Idaho. Wilgus is leaving to become executive director of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau in Pennsylvania.
Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jim Ellick said, “Karen’s years of experience in the tourism industry and with the Department of Commerce are an asset to our department and will make for a smooth transition.” Ballard, who also is a board member for Preservation Idaho, called Wilgus “a great mentor.” She said. “Travel to the state is growing at a healthy pace, and I look forward to keeping it sustainable.”