JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri Tourism Commission announced today that Ward Franz will serve as the new director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, the state agency within the Department of Economic Development, that works to promote the Show-Me State as a tourist destination.
“We are excited to have Ward lead the Division of Tourism,” said Commission Chair Scott Hovis. “Missouri saw a record number of visitors in 2017, and we are confident Ward will build upon that success.”
Franz served as chief of staff to Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson prior to Parson becoming governor. From 2012 to 2017, Franz was the executive director of the Ozarks Medical Center Foundation in West Plains. He served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012, representing District 151, which includes the West Plains area.
The commission also announced that Lori Simms will become deputy director of tourism. She has held several positions with the division, most recently serving as interim director following the retirement of Director Dan Lennon.
During Fiscal Year 2017, Missouri saw more than 42 million visitors, and the total economic impact of the tourism industry topped $16.8 billion.
In addition to appointing the division director, the commission recommends programs to increase tourism in the state and promotes the exchange of travel and tourism information among state and local agencies, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, travel organizations, tourism-related businesses and individuals who work in the industry.
The commission, created in 1967 by the Missouri General Assembly, is comprised of 10 members, each serving a four-year term. Five members are appointed by the governor. The additional five members include the lieutenant governor, two senators appointed by the president pro-tem and two representatives appointed by the speaker of the house.