What does a Director of Tourism do?

My first job – or at least the first time I remember completing a task and getting some kind of cash in return for it – was in my dad’s auto parts store as a little kid. There would just be big bins of oddly shaped metal and rubber parts (parts that – to this day – are a total mystery to me) and I’d have to match them up to boxes with the matching part number. Then I’d just dust shelves and arrange screwdrivers in fun patterns for the rest of the day. Even today when I smell the oddly pleasing mixture of oil, rubber and stale coffee I feel like I should get to work.

My first real job where I got paid by someone who wasn’t my dad, was for the City of Placerville Parks & Recreation department where I was a stand-out youth basketball referee. By “stand out” I mean I was noticeably bad at it. It’s a tough job because they are crying or committing some kind of egregious violation 98% of the time…and that’s just the parents (ba-zing!). Seriously though, have you ever seen an 8 year-old play basketball? It was a total nightmare job and I was VERY BAD at it.

From there I moved on to such sweet gigs as grocery bagger, newsroom aide at the local paper, delivery driver, office aide, marketing guy, baseball grounds crew member, beer man and more.

So basically, it’s your typical resume for someone who ends up as a director of tourism.  And when you become a director of tourism, you get super professional photos that look like this:


Ok, that’s not my real work headshot. I don’t even wear glasses and that pocket square is actually a sock. But it doesn’t really matter because most of the time when I’m working I look like more like this:


But other times I look like this:


Or this:


Or even this:


Which makes a lot of wrong-thinkers think that I’m just goofing off all the time. The fact is that most of the time I’m just at my desk looking like this:


In fact, that’s me – right now – as I type this.

Anyhow, as the Director of Tourism for Visit Sacramento, the number one question I get asked is “Do you work here?” Then the second question is “What the heck does a Director of Tourism do?” Well, wouldn’t you like to know? And, actually, if you do know, please tell me.

Kidding, kidding.

I know what I do – for the most part.

My main purpose is to let people know how great Sacramento is. This is pretty easy for me because even before I got hired by Visit Sacramento eleven years ago, I was already a pretty huge Sacramento fan.

So now my job is share with tour companies, visitors and other travelers all that Sacramento has to offer.

Admittedly, Sacramento is a bit of a misfit in the tourism world. There’s no Disneyland, there’s no Golden Gate Bridge, there’s no Half Dome….there’s not even a quarter dome. In fact, there is no dome at all. Oh! Except for the Capitol dome, but that doesn’t really count. And that means that a lot of potential visitors don’t know much about us….if they know anything.

Sacramento is not a touristy town by any stretch, but tourists can have a lot of fun here. Basically, like the people who live here have been doing since the Gold Rush.

So a bunch of my job is just letting people know that we exist and that if they like eating, drinking, biking, trees, rivers, California history and a whole bunch of friendly, fun and attractive people then they are going to love Sacramento.

So that’s what I do in general, but day-to-day I never really know what I may be doing. One day it could be calling tour companies, the next it could be whitewater rafting, the next it could going to a trade show the next it could be writing a blog about what the Director of Tourism does.

In then end, I do whatever it takes to get the word out there about Sacramento.

If that sounds moderately amusing to you, then you should follow this blog. I promise it won’t be a like a boring marketing blog. It’s going to be a real blog written by me which means I’ll probably update it like a million times over the first couple weeks and then I’ll neglect it forever, but come along for the ride while it lasts!

And, of course, if you have any questions about Sacramento (or anything else) you can feel free to contact me at nleonti@visitsacramento.com.


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