The U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) is the only national forum where destination marketing professionals at the state, regional and local level get critical tools, tips and information to help them better market and grow their destinations.

This week, U.S. Travel convened more than 650 destination marketers in Los Angeles for the association’s annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), marking one of the largest national gatherings of destination marketers since the start of the pandemic.

Support for the full and safe reopening of the business travel sector has been driven by the Let’s Meet There initiative for months, an industry-wide coalition of travel industry businesses and organizations under the U.S. Travel umbrella. ESTO was held in-person in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, as well as all state and local health and safety requirements.

Destination leaders from around the country met to chart a path forward while leading by example that professional meetings and events can safely take place. The event is particularly timely as destination marketing organizations (DMOs) continue to play a key role in economic recovery efforts across the United States.

U.S. Travel’s National Council of State Tourism Directors—a body representing the tourism offices of all states and U.S. territories—named Brad Dean, chief executive officer of Discover Puerto Rico, National State Tourism Director of the Year for 2021, a key highlight from the event. Since taking the helm of Puerto Rico’s destination marketing organization, Dean has guided the island’s tourism industry through a remarkable period of recovery and growth. Dean’s passion for Puerto Rico and for travel make him a well-deserved recipient of this esteemed award.