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Montana gains seat on U.S. Travel Association board of directors

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Visit Big Sky and Chamber CEO at Montana’s capital building in Helena. Strauss was appointed to the U.S. Travel Association board of directors in March. PHOTO COURTESY OF VISIT BIG SKY

Candace Carr Strauss to advocate for state’s tourism


Tourism is Montana’s second largest industry and one of its local champions, Candace Carr Strauss, CEO of Visit Big Sky and the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed to serve as its voice on the national level as director at-large of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors on Feb. 21. The U.S. Travel Association, an influential industry group, works to grow travel to and within the United States. The association advocates on behalf of businesses and destinations across the country, which together generate $2.4 trillion in economic output annually while supporting 15.6 million American jobs. 

Strauss took the helm as CEO of Visit Big Sky and the Big Sky Chamber in February 2017 and since then, Big Sky has risen to become the second largest hotel bed tax generator in the state behind Billings, Montana’s largest city. As a newly appointed U.S. Travel Association board member, Strauss joins her former colleague Elliott Ferguson, who she worked with at Destination DC, in the nation’s capital. Ferguson is now national chair of the U.S. Travel Association. 

“I look forward to working with Elliott [Ferguson] and the other directors to strengthen the position of the U.S. as a premiere international travel destination,” Strauss said. “It will be an honor to serve the industry by helping to grow travel champions and advocating for pro-travel legislation needed to fuel the economic engine that is the #PowerofTravel,” said Strauss, who heads to Washington D.C. on April 10 to participate in the association’s “Destination Capitol Hill” and her first board meeting.

The board includes representatives from Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Maryland, Maine, New York, Oklahoma and more.

“Candace does an amazing job of bringing attention to the tourism industry’s significant economic impact on the state’s economy,” said Dax Schieffer, director for Voices of Montana Tourism. “What an opportunity for her powerful voice of Montana tourism to contribute to furthering the conversation happening on a national level.” 

The U.S. Travel Association is a champion for public lands and national parks, evidenced by its support of the Land and Water Conservation Act recently passed by both chambers of Congress. The association is currently urging Congress to pass the Restore Our Parks Act, which addresses the $12 billion maintenance backlog. The backlog is a common topic of conversation in Montana, with Glacier National Park and its three entrances to Yellowstone National Park, which helped attract the state’s 12.5 million non-resident visitors in 2017.

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