When the Idaho Travel Council gaveled in its annual meeting Oct. 8 in McCall, controversy was on the agenda.
Council members were stunned to learn that Karen Ballard, who has led the the Idaho Department of Commerce's Division of Tourism for the past six years, was laid off 24 hours earlier. Ballard was pink-slipped along with Damien Bard, chief of the Commerce Department's Division for International Business.
Simply put, state officials laid off the two, rewrote their job descriptions and posted them again at lower salaries. Ballard has already indicated that she was interested in vying for the downsized job.
Jeff Sayer, director of the Department of Commerce told the Spokesman-Review that the change was a reorganization, "So that we can be more responsive to the businesses of the state and the changes that are occurring in economic development."
Sayer said he intended to tell the Idaho Travel Council that his department continues to focus on Idaho as a tourist destination.
It's estimated that overnight visitors to idaho spend nearly $1.8 billion each year in lodging, food and beverage, retail purchases, recreation and transportation. Day trips to Idaho generate approximately $1 billion more each year.