Find Your MO

OUTdrive Episode 112 with Stephen Foutes

OUTdrive Episode 112 with Stephen Foutes

Under the umbrella of the Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Division of Tourism oversees the state’s marketing effort to attract visitors to Missouri. And those efforts are pretty important, considering they produce a 13.5 billion-dollar impact. As the Director of Tourism and a lifelong Missourian, Stephen Foutes quite literally lives, works, and plays in the Show-Me State. In this episode, I chat with Stephen about how his experience and state pride propelled him to land his dream job promoting Missouri as a premier tourist destination.

Prior to his current role, Stephen collected experience in a wide variety of communication and marketing roles. He spent 10 years in the newspaper industry, primarily as a reporter and editor at the Jefferson City News Tribune. In 2009, Foutes joined the Missouri Division of Tourism as the Travel Guide editor. Over the next several years, he held varying roles – website editor, communications team manager, communications coordinator – before his most recent stint at the Missouri State Medical Association as its director of marketing in 2017. His native roots trace back to Hannibal and Bowling Green, and he went on to earn a degree in communications from Central Methodist University.

Second only to agriculture, tourism is one of the top economic drivers in Missouri. Tune into this episode to learn more about the impact of tourism on nearly every industry, hear details behind the “Find Your M-O” campaign, and get the scoop on some of the must-see places in Missouri.


  • 2:20 – Stephen shares his background and how he came to be the Director at the Missouri Division of Tourism
  • 4:30 – Stephen explains the purpose of the Missouri Division of Tourism
  • 6:30 – Stephen outlines how important tourism is to the state’s economy
  • 9:20 – Stephen discusses the role the division of tourism plays in the Missouri State Fair
  • 12:20 – Cliff and Stephen discuss how the State Fair impacts tourism
  • 13:30 – Stephen shares his favorite part of the Fair
  • 15:50 – Stephen describes his typical day as the Director of Tourism
  • 18:00 – Stephen shares how the variety of marketing roles prepared him for his current role
  • 20:15 – Stephen and Cliff share their favorite things to do around the state of Missouri
  • 23:20 – Stephen talks about the “Find your M-O” campaign, how it came to fruition, and the ultimate execution
  • 26:15 – Stephen shares some of the research and industry insight on the behavior and interests of southern visitors to Missouri
  • 31:00 – Stephen talks about the impact of gas prices on vacations and road trips
  • 35:00 – Other industry trends Stephen is seeing within tourism, regionally and nationally
  • 37:20 – Stephen shares the characterization of rural America
  • 38:15 – How to find out more about Missouri tourism at or at Welcome Centers across the state