Lori Harnois was confirmed as the first state tourism director appointed by the Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA). The Executive Council unanimously confirmed Governor Sununu’s appointment of Harnois on Wednesday, January 8.
For the past five years, Harnois has served as executive director of Discover New England, a six-state collaborative international travel and tourism marketing organization based in Portsmouth. She has deep knowledge of the NH tourism industry having previously served at the former Department of Resource and Economic Development. Harnois will officially begin as director of BEA’s division of Travel & Tourism Development on January 31.
Harnois' new role includes the execution of the state’s “Tourist to Talent” plan to develop strategies to support business and workforce recruitment, using marketing and branding created for tourism to drive workforce development.
“We are pleased to have Lori in this role as she brings tremendous knowledge, experience, and a forward-thinking approach,” says Governor Chris Sununu. “Tourism is critically important in New Hampshire as our second-largest revenue generator and Lori’s skillset, strategic vision, and expertise make her an easy choice for this critical state position.”
During her tenure at Discover New England, Harnois developed and executed a strategic direction for the promotion and marketing of New England that resulted in a 22 percent increase in international visitation and a 41 percent increase in international visitor spending. Harnois also oversaw a full rebranding of Discover New England, while presiding over the region’s largest travel trade conference.
“Lori has more than 20 years of leadership promoting New Hampshire and New England as domestic and international tourism destinations, making her uniquely qualified to assume the role of state tourism director,” says Taylor Caswell, BEA commissioner.
State tourism Deputy Director Amy Bassett has served as acting director since April 2019.