Published on : Thursday, August 28, 2014
The award is voted upon annually by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors. Hagen was announced as the winner before more than 600 of his peers Monday at the ESTO annual conference of travel professionals, held this year in Louisville, Ky.
“South Dakota understands that travel dollars are an essential contributor to the state economy,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The competitive tourism marketplace demands that states invest in effective, efficient promotion, and this award demonstrates that Jim Hagen is running a program that has the highest respect of his peers.”
Hagen is the first South Dakotan to receive the award since Susan Edwards in 1994.
Hagen has served as the secretary of tourism for Gov. Dennis Daugaard since 2011. Hagen has a deep love for domestic and international travel, and a passion for seeing the visitor industry in South Dakota grow to new heights.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have Jim leading our Tourism Department,” said Gov. Daugaard. “With a knack for getting to know people and an enthusiasm for South Dakota that is contagious, Jim has led Tourism from one success to another. He is truly exceptional.”
Before joining the Daugaard Administration, Hagen served four and a half years as the national campaign director and public relations director for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. From 2004 to 2006, he served as secretary of tourism and state development in the administration of Governor Mike Rounds. In this role, he oversaw the Offices of Tourism, Economic Development, Arts, History and State-Tribal Relations.
During Gov. Bill Janklow’s Administration from 1995 to 2002, he served as chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and special advisor to the governor. In these roles, Hagen served as the governor’s day-to-day liaison with the Departments of Tourism, Transportation, Revenue and Economic Development.
Hagen grew up in the northeast corner of South Dakota. He is a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California.
Hagen was recently appointed to the 32-member U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. He is also an active board member of the U.S. Travel Association.
“Jim is a tremendous ambassador for the tourism and travel industry,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune. “As a tireless advocate for the state of South Dakota, Jim has engaged thousands of tourists from across the country and around the world in sharing South Dakota’s world-class national parks, history, memorials, and more. I congratulate Jim on this well-deserved honor and look forward to continuing to partner with him on important travel promotion legislation, such as the extension and improvement of Brand USA.”
The STDOTY award is given to the professional whose leadership has led to the measurable improvement of his or her state’s travel and tourism profile. Each year, such success is measured in relationship to the budgetary and staff resources that the director has at their disposal.
Candidates are nominated by state/territory tourism directors, and a slate of three finalists is presented for selection by ballot.