Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has named Deborah Ward the executive director of Visit Omaha, the official tourism authority for the City of Omaha and Douglas County. Ward had served as the interim director since July 2020.
“During the most challenging year for the tourism and hospitality businesses, Deb managed the OCVB and did a tremendous job,” said Mayor Stothert. “She is innovative, connected and respected; qualities I believe are critical to this position. As Omaha reopens, she has the experience and long-standing relationships to position Omaha as a prime destination for events, conventions and leisure travel.”
Over the past 14 years with Visit Omaha, Ward has developed and delivered campaigns to welcome out-of-town visitors, conventions and business events to the city. Prior to the start of the pandemic, she led a strategic effort to bring more people to Omaha, resulting in a 25% increase in visitation from cities around the region.
“This last year has been a reminder to all of us how important tourism is to our city,” said Ward. “With the success of the U.S. Senior Open, NCAA Men’s College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials under our belt, recovery has now begun.”
The Visit Omaha marketing team has won numerous regional and national awards for the Visit Omaha website, the Omaha Visitors Guide and for creative tourism advertising campaigns, including: the “Now Serving Omaha” video series, promoting locally-owned Omaha restaurants and the “Bob” campaign – designed to promote the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge as an iconic Omaha attraction. Most recently, Ward and the team developed OMAR, the popular troll who sits under the bridge along with the children’s book about OMAR which has been distributed to thousands of Omaha children and out-of-town visitors.
For more information on attractions and future developments in Omaha, go to VisitOmaha.com.