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NYS Tourism Conference Panel - Marketing to Diverse Audiences

Mar 29, 2024

2024 NYS Tourism Conference
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April 17-19 | Niagara Falls, NY
2024 NYS Tourism Excellence Awards
Call for Nominations!

Case Studies from New York State

Members of the I LOVE NY team will discuss the programs, describe the value of these segments and explain the strategy and tactics utilized for each at the 2024 NYS Tourism Conference on Friday, April 19. The panel discussion will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about I LOVE NY Division of Tourism’s marketing initiatives to reach diverse audiences and to ask questions about the programs.

I LOVE NY programs provide examples of robust marketing initiatives to reach specific market segments:

  • The I LOVE NY LGBTQ initiative, which celebrates and builds upon New York’s strong LGBTQ connection and history to show off New York’s unparalleled vacation offerings and welcome LGBTQ visitors.
  • Accessible New York is an initiative designed to improve the travel planning experience for visitors with accessibility needs. Recognizing that anyone, regardless of physical limitations, abilities or age should be able to enjoy New York’s world-class attractions and events, the program was launched to extend an invitation to more than 67 million American travelers with accessibility needs.
  • The recently launched I LOVE NY Black travel initiative highlights and curates New York State’s world-class attractions to better welcome Black visitors, their friends and families, and anyone interested in the Black experience in America to come explore New York’s unparalleled Black history, culture, food, arts and events.

The New York State Division of Tourism / I LOVE NY has made it a priority to promote travel to diverse audiences by developing programs and marketing tools that offer a personalized invitation to come and experience all that New York State has to offer.

About the Speakers:

Ross D. Levi

Ross D. Levi is the Executive Director of the New York State Division of Tourism and a Vice President at Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency. Ross leads I LOVE NY's tourism promotion and industry efforts to grow visitation across the state and position New York as a premier global destination.

Ross joined ESD in 2012 as Vice President of Marketing Initiatives and became Executive Director of Tourism in 2017. He has been instrumental in launching and developing several new tourism efforts, including I LOVE NY LGBTQ and I LOVE NY’s Black tourism initiative, Path Through History, Accessible New York, the Governor’s Tourism Summits, the Adirondack and Catskill Challenges, tourism workforce job fairs and the Tourism Return to Work and Meet in New York COVID-19 recovery grants.

Ross coordinates efforts with the state’s regional tourism partners and tourism trade groups, and works closely with New York State Tourism Advisory Council, which provides input from the industry regarding the state's tourism efforts.

Prior to joining ESD, Ross served as Executive Director of Empire State Pride Agenda, one of the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ equality and justice organizations. He was a legislative director in the New York State Senate and worked in marketing in the film industry for companies including 20th Century Fox, Universal and Miramax. Ross is a published author and holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and a B.S. from Boston University, where he received local and national recognition for commercial writing and filmmaking.

He lives in rural Stephentown with his spouse, dogs and cat.

Sara Emmert

Sara Emmert is Senior Director of Tourism Policy and Operations in the New York State Division of Tourism at Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency, where she oversees tourism policy, program development, and interagency and operational efforts.

While at I LOVE NY, Sara has managed several segment tourism initiatives including Path Through History and I LOVE NY LGBTQ. She also oversees Accessible NY, which she helped develop and launch in July 2020, to help travelers with accessibility needs plan a New York State getaway.

Previously, Sara worked as a special assistant in the New York State Executive Chamber, supporting the state operations, legislative and intergovernmental affairs teams. She also served as deputy chief editor at the New York State Assembly, assisting majority conference members through legislative research and public relations efforts.

Danae Jones-Persip

Danae Jones-Persip is Senior Manager of Travel Trade and Programs for the New York State Division of Tourism at Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency.

Danae is responsible for the strategy, logistics and management of international press and trade familiarization tours; the implementation and alignment of international public relations strategies; and the support and industry coordination of consumer and trade travel shows. She oversees the I LOVE NY Black travel initiative and the administration of the Brand USA - New York State marketing partnership.

Danae joined ESD in 2011 and, after earning her BA from SUNY Empire State College, has worked in various roles within the agency and Division of Tourism.

David Contreras Turley

David Contreras Turley is the Director of Industry Relations for the New York State Division of Tourism at Empire State Development, New York’s Economic Development Agency. David serves as I LOVE NY's liaison to the state's tourism promotion agencies, destination marketing organizations and travel industry partners. He also manages the I LOVE NY LGBTQ program.

Prior to joining ESD, David was the Director of Constituency Affairs for the New York State Executive Chamber, where he led the governor’s community affairs division and outreach.

Previously, David worked for the Human Rights Campaign—the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group—where he managed efforts to pass marriage equality laws in New York, Rhode Island and Maryland. David has worked for various candidates and ballot initiatives across the U.S. at the federal, state and local level with a focus on LGBTQ and Latino issues, voter mobilization and get-out-the-vote efforts.

David has a B.A. in Latin American studies and economics from Vanderbilt University. He resides with his husband and three children in New York City's Washington Heights neighborhood.