Dept. of Tourism: Acting Secretary Anne Sayers named one of the HSMA International’s Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds

MADISON, Wis., (Feb. 2, 2021) — The Wisconsin Department of Tourism is pleased to announce Anne Sayers, the department’s Acting Secretary, has been named one of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing and Revenue Optimization. In recent years, Sayers has helped change the face of Wisconsin tourism, resulting in record-breaking tourism numbers for the state followed by relentless advocacy for tourism recovery.

The HSMAI Top 25 Americas awards recognize leaders in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization of hospitality, travel, and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months. Selected by a panel of senior industry executives, “Top 25” awardees are high achievers who stand out through their creativity and innovation, cutting-edge campaigns and programs, triumph in challenging situations and efforts that resulted in dramatic gains. 

“Anne’s leadership and fresh ideas have been integral to the reshaping of Wisconsin tourism since she joined the Department of Tourism as Deputy Secretary in 2019,” said Ben Popp, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation Executive Director and Wisconsin Council on Tourism Chair. “Her dedication to her partners and team members is unparalleled, as is her passion for promoting and supporting tourism to the state of Wisconsin. This recognition from HSMAI is well-deserved.”

As Deputy Secretary, Sayers helped pivot Travel Wisconsin from having their best year on record in 2019, to leading the industry through the global public health pandemic, which include managing $1.5 million in mandatory departmental budget lapses. In addition, Sayers successfully advocated for nearly $12 million in grant support for the tourism industry to help industry partners survive the pandemic.

Sayers’ unwavering support for the tourism industry in Wisconsin is exemplified by the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, one of only two states in the nation to house this office within the Department of Tourism. Sayers established an industry-engaged strategic plan; restructured the Department’s advisory committees, including the creation of two new committees prioritizing diversity and inclusion and the advancement of the outdoor recreation industry; and restructured the operational processes and organization of the Department to enable talent attraction, production excellence, and goal attainment. Sayers was named Acting Secretary for the Department of Tourism in December 2020.

An Alaskan by way of Oklahoma and Oregon, Sayers came to Wisconsin to attend UW-Madison. After earning degrees in International Relations, Geography, and Environmental Studies, Sayers chose to make Wisconsin her permanent home. Over the past two decades, Sayers has served in executive roles with a variety of nonprofit organizations at the state, national and international level.


About the Wisconsin Department of Tourism
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to inspire travelers to visit Wisconsin. Because we believe in the power of exploration and travel, we work to market the state as a premier travel destination. By executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships, the Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact for Wisconsin through tourism. Learn more at