Driving Change Through Tourism, with Bob Provost

Episode 354

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Since joining the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) as President & CEO in September of 2018, Bob has focused on NYSTIA’s programming, marketing & data analytics, advocacy efforts, and destination stewardship strategies. He has enhanced member communications and collaborative initiatives, facilitated rebranding, and the restatement of vision and purpose for the organization. He worked hand-in-hand with tourism industry members across the state and leadership in Washington, DC, and Albany to coordinate response and recovery efforts during and following the pandemic. Post-pandemic initiatives include the creation of member task force teams on sustainability, workforce development, and higher education.

Today, the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) is a nonprofit, member-driven organization at the vanguard of tourism destination stewardship and long-term strategic planning.

Tourism is not a goal; it is a means to an end, states Bob. Tourism is a tool to power economic growth, job creation, small business success, community revitalization, increased local and state tax revenues, improved standard of living and quality of life, and pride of place. NYSTIAs membership includes the leadership of New York State County Tourism Promotion Agencies (TPAs), major urban and remote/rural Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), key executives from major attractions (e.g., LEGOLAND NY), museums (e.g., Baseball Hall of Fame, Corning Museum of Glass, Strong Museum of Play), resort hotels and major marketing firms from across the U.S and Canada.

Born in Bayshore, Long Island, Bob Provost LOVES NY, vacationing everywhere from Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands to New York City, Lake Placid to Corning, with stops everywhere in between. He resides with his wife, Pam, just outside Albany, NY, on a rural property in Rensselaer County.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Bob Provost, who shares why he sees the travel and tourism industry as a stimulant for change. We discuss transformational development, stewardship, and the importance of long-term strategic thinking for DMOs. Bob also shares how the New York State Tourism Industry Association is facilitating the discussion around best practices in DEI.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How creating a bundle of attractions and destinations helped the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s recovery and resurgence
  • Defining leadership versus management and the importance of both qualities for organizational success
  • The importance of long-term strategic thinking and vision as a DMO
  • How the New York State Tourism Industry Association utilizes tourism as a tool to achieve economic growth, job creation, and community revitalization
  • Outcomes and best practices discussed during the panel on Diversity in Action

Transformational Development

In our conversation Bob emphasizes the role of tourism as a catalyst for change, transforming stagnant markets and revitalizing communities. He describes why their focus is not just on short-term goals but also on long-term strategic thinking, envisioning a future state and working collaboratively to achieve it. Through various projects such as building arenas, developing destination marketing organizations, and creating vibrant tourism assets like the National Museum of Play, communities experience lasting positive impact.

Collaboration is at the heart of Bob Provost’s approach and he describes how by bringing together diverse industry professionals, sharing expertise, and working towards a common vision, the association has been successful in implementing initiatives that have had a positive effect on the community as a whole.

Stewardship and Long-Term Thinking

We discuss the significance of stewardship in destination management and why DMOs have a . responsibility to preserve and enhance both natural and cultural resources, ensuring their sustainable use for future generations. Bob discusses the domino effect, and encourages leaders to exercise vision and work towards shared goals, aligning the interests of all stakeholders.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recognizing the importance of diversity within the tourism industry, the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s focus has shifted to diversifying supply chains, reaching out to different demographic groups, and promoting diversity within communities and organizations. Bob discusses the well-received panel on Diversity in Action and describes how the association is facilitating the discussion, highlighting positive outcomes and signposting to best practices in DEI.


I am so excited to announce that my first book, Stronger Together: Building World-Changing Collaborations that Succeed, has been released! Help me celebrate this milestone and expand your knowledge about collaboration. Find out more information here: nicolemahoney.com

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