DOVER — Jessica Welch, director of communications for the state Division of Small Business, has been named the new director of the Delaware Office of Tourism (DTO).
She succeeds Elizabeth Keller, who left the office in July to direct Committee of 100a nonpartisan nonprofit association of Delaware business leaders that works to promote accountability economic development.
Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, whose department reports to the office of tourism, said Welch “brings an immense wealth of knowledge and experience to fulfill this crucial role in Delaware’s economy.”
“The Tourist Office contributes billions each year to the State [gross domestic product] and creates thousands of jobs in the process. As Delaware continues to be a favorite tourist destination, I know Jessica will build on the work done thus far to continue to attract out-of-state visitors while promoting the prosperity of existing tourism businesses in the Delaware. ‘state,’ Bullock said in a statement Monday announcing the pick.
On Thursday, Welch said she was a lifelong Delawaren who has lived in all three counties and spent her career in journalism and marketing here in her home state.
“I have a real love for Delaware. I think it’s an amazing place,” the Dover resident said.
During her time as director of communications for the Delaware Small Business Division, Welch got to know Keller and her tourism team. When Keller announced he was leaving, Welch said she felt attracted to the position.
“I thought about it for a long time, but I was like, ‘If you don’t go after this, you’re going to regret it,'” she said.
Welch is taking over the state’s tourism marketing operations at a time when public awareness of the first state is likely at an all-time high due to President Joe Biden’s residence here and the recent conclusion BMW PGA Tour Championship which brought more than 110,000 people to Wilmington with four days of national television coverage.
The DTO strives to attract a large number of out-of-state visitors to Delaware through advertising and marketing campaigns, travel publications, and year-round efforts. to bring group tours and sporting events to the state. The office regularly partners with Delaware businesses, counties and municipalities to build their appeal as tourist destinations, helping them strengthen their marketing efforts and giving them the tools to responsibly increase visitation. .
“We would love to see events like the BMW Championship come to Delaware,” she said. “We will push even harder in terms of sports tourism to organize these big events here, but also to organize the smaller events, because our daily bread is really the travel tournaments that take place in DE Turf and elsewhere.
Welch expects to carry over some initiatives from its predecessor, including bolstering the marketing of Delaware as a destination to select cities like Boston and Chicago that have tested well. The DTO will also run a campaign aimed at solo travellers, an industry niche that has grown in the wake of the COVID pandemic, as people no longer put off vacations if they can’t bring their friends or their family to do it with them, Welch said.
In her own new initiatives, Welch said she wants DTO to increase its use of video and social media to deliver its campaigns, especially on TikTok, the video platform popular with younger users.
“People watch videos all the time now, and I think we’d definitely like to do more if we can,” she said.
While she knows many Delaware amenities and attractions, one holds a special place in her heart: Hagley Museum and Library in Alapocas, where she previously held the position of marketing manager.
“You have to go to Hagley. It’s a great jumping-off point for the Delaware Mansions and Gardens region,” she said.