About TourismOhio

Next meeting of the TourismOhio Advisory Board: Sept. 18, 2014


TourismOhio seeks to tell the story of what makes Ohio experiences unique and unforgettable. We provide support to Ohio tourism industries as they share their stories through PR, marketing, advertising, and social media channels. Tourism is a key economic driver for Ohio, and our team works to promote the state as premiere travel destination, focusing on the people, places, and spaces that make Ohio great. TourismOhio strives to inform and inspire each person within our borders and beyond to discover all Ohio has to offer.


TourismOhio now has twice the funding available as compared to previous years, to help promote the state’s travel experiences. The funding model for marketing Ohio is based on the growth of spending within tourism industries. It is performance-based and depends on the increase in sales tax year to year, up to $10 million. The model is set up as a 5-year pilot funding model beginning in Fiscal Year 2014.

Economic Impact

Tourism is a major economic driver for the state and is a $36 billion industry. In 2012, Ohio welcomed nearly 190 million visitors, most of which are within a day’s drive (300-500 miles).

Ohio has seen a steady increase in visitor spending since 2009. According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, there has been a 4.7 percent increase (up by roughly $35 million) in tourism-related sales tax from 2012 to 2013.

Overnight visitors to Ohio spend 3 times as much as day visitor. Daytrip visitors spend an estimated $108 per person, while overnight visitors spend an estimated $321 per person.

TourismOhio in the News

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App helps travelers in Ohio: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

TourismOhio has rolled out a free iPad app to help visitors plan their travels in the Buckeye State.

New Ohio travel guide can help you plan your summer vacation: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Spring is two weeks away – and you know what that means. It's time to plan your summer getaway.

New TourismOhio director Mary Cusick seeks the right brand to sell Ohio to visitors: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Consider the huge variety of attractions that bring visitors to Ohio – from the Cleveland Museum of Art to Amish country to Ash Cave.

Ohio's tourism chief ready to discover what attracts visitors: Columbus Dispatch

Ohio is a lot like a Bob Evans breakfast, says a former marketing executive for the restaurant chain who now is Ohio’s tourism director. It has something for everyone, she says.

TourismOhio Advisory Board

The 11-member TourismOhio Advisory Board is charged with advising the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and the Director of TourismOhio on strategies for promoting Ohio’s numerous travel destinations and experiences.


Mary Cusick
Mary Cusick
(TourismOhio) – As the Director of TourismOhio, Mary Cusick leads the state’s efforts to create a marketing plan promoting Ohio as a premier travel destination. Prior to her role, Cusick spent a large part of her career at Bob Evans Farms, Inc. where she was the Chief Marketing Officer. She is also the former Executive Director of the Initiative for Managing Services, a center of excellence at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

John Minor
(JobsOhio) – John is the President and Chief Financial Officer of JobsOhio and leads the effort to grow jobs for Ohio. His team works with expanding companies and those interesting in coming to Ohio, bringing jobs opportunities and revenue to the state.

Appointed Members

Jodi Burroughs
(Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and Wild Zipline Safari at the Wilds) - Jodi is a graduate of The Ohio State University’s Max M. Fisher College of Business and has been providing exciting tree-top adventures since 2007.

Ellen Grinsfelder
(Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls) - Ellen is a graduate of Kent State University and moved to the Hocking Hills in 1987 where she began helping her mother operate the Inn, which is known for its peaceful, natural setting, helping travelers reconnect with nature. Ellen now runs the Inn with her husband.


Todd Mesek
(Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum) - Todd brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic planning, market research,
advertising and brand development to the Advisory Board.

Dan Sullivan
(HNS Sports Group, executive director of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin) – Under Dan’s leadership, the Memorial continues its strong reputation as one of the most prestigious and well-regarded tournaments on the PGA Tour. Sullivan, a graduate of Miami University, also serves on the Morton Foundation board, a group dedicated to helping children learn and play golf.

Karen Maier
(Frisch’s Restaurants) – Karen is the Vice President of Marketing at Frisch’s and also created the popular “Taste of Cincinnati,” the nation’s longest running culinary arts festival. It began in 1979 and is held every Memorial Day weekend. About 500,000 people attend the event featuring more than 40 restaurants serving up tasty dishes.

Brian Ross
(Experience Columbus) – Brian is the president of the Columbus Convention and Visitor Bureau. He has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality business, working for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts before joining Experience Columbus in 2007.


Gregory Scheid
(Kings Island) – Greg is the General Manager of one of the biggest amusement parks in the country; 15th largest to be exact. He is a graduate of the University of Toledo and began working for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which operates the park, in 2000.

John Mahaney Jr.
(Ohio Council of Retail Merchants) – John represents all the major Ohio retailers before the general assembly. He has been working with the Council for the past 50 years.

Dan Young
(Young’s Dairy) – Dan is the CEO of Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs. The family farm recently celebrated 144 years and has grown to include two restaurants, miniature golf courses, batting cages, corn mazes, educational tours, large events and more.

Our Team
TourismOhio Staff

Mary Cusick
is the Director of TourismOhio and leads the state’s efforts to create a marketing plan promoting Ohio as a premier travel destination. Prior to her role, Cusick spent a large part of her career at Bob Evans Farms, Inc. where she was the Chief Marketing Officer. She is also the former Executive Director of the Initiative for Managing Services, a center of excellence at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. Mary loves to explore new Ohio experiences and enjoys Ohio art such as paintings, jewelry, and more. You can reach Mary at Mary.Cusick@development.ohio.gov.

Tamara Brown
is the Public Relations Manager for TourismOhio and has been sharing Ohio tourism experiences with media and travel writers for 15 years. The best part of her job is seeing the look on a writer’s face as they experience Ohio’s many hidden treasures and their preconceived notions about Ohio melt away. Tammy is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism/public relations. She spends her free time hiking and biking Ohio, bird-watching and gardening. You can reach Tammy via email at tamara.brown@development.ohio.gov or on Twitter @trvloh.

Katie Sabatino
is the Communications Manager for TourismOhio and is a native of Columbus. She graduated from the University of Toledo with a B.A. in Broadcast Communications. After spending several years as a broadcast journalist around the country, she moved back to Ohio in 2009 to help promote the state she loves. Katie enjoys hiking, going to Ohio State football games, and buying Ohio-made products whenever possible. You can reach Katie at Katie.Sabatino@development.ohio.gov or on Twitter @TourismOhioPR.

Joe Giessler is the Multimedia Marketing Coordinator for TourismOhio. A native of Cincinnati, Joe earned his B.A. in Communications from the University of Dayton. Joe is an avid golfer, diehard Cincinnati Bengals fan and overall sports enthusiast. He enjoys running, cooking, grilling and meeting new people. You can email Joe at Joe.Giessler@development.ohio.gov or on Twitter @joegiessler.

Aimee Rupert serves as the Public Relations Specialist for TourismOhio and oversees the Ohio Travel Publications. A graduate of Otterbein College, Aimee previously was the Promotions Manager at The American Ceramic Society. She has a fondness for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Zoos and Wild Animal Parks, and any festival where they serve food on a stick. You can reach Aimee at Aimee.Rupert@development.ohio.gov.

Shelley Powell
is the Administrative Assistant for TourismOhio. Shelley tracks invoicing and scheduling for the office, as well as handles logistics for TourismOhio advisory board meetings. You can email Shelley at Shelley.Powell@development.ohio.gov

Kevin Smith
is the TourismOhio intern and is a senior at Capital University, majoring in public relations. He will graduate in May 2014. Kevin has a love for Ohio, having grown up in Hilliard. He loves to explore new adventures and is an avid traveler. You can email Kevin at Kevin.Smith@development.ohio.gov.



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