About Karyl Leigh Barnes


Karyl Leigh is the president of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining DCI in 1998 from a New York State DMO, she has led destination strategy and campaign implementation for destinations on every continent except Antarctica. She has been a featured speaker at IACC, IMEX America, IMEX Frankfurt, NATJA, SATW, TMAC and numerous tourism conferences.

Karyl Leigh holds a master’s degree in global marketing communications from Emerson College/Brussels, is professionally accredited in marketing communications by the International Advertising Association and has completed her CDME with Destinations International.

Karyl Leigh’s Passion for Places

From her first trip to South America at age five, Karyl Leigh was enthralled by the cultures and customs unearthed in every new place she ventured. And after diligently pursuing study abroad programs in Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom, she landed quite naturally in destination marketing at “The Leader in Marketing Places.” While at DCI, Karyl Leigh has worked with celebrities, such as actors and Olympic athletes, but she remains most enthusiastic about the unique personalities and authentic experiences that permeate destinations themselves.

Notable Results

  • To increase awareness and arrivals of North Americans to Namibia, Karyl Leigh designed and conducted a comprehensive research effort, from which she crafted a destination marketing strategy. As a result, visitor arrivals increased 19.6 percent. The campaign won an HSMAI Adrian Platinum award.
  • To establish a brand presence for the new “Pennsylvania Wilds” and Elk Scenic Drive, Karyl Leigh launched an intensive media relations campaign that reached more than 26 million consumers, driving more than 88,000 consumers to the dedicated website for the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.
  • Karyl Leigh spearheaded “A View from Meeting Planners: Winning Strategies in Destination Marketing.” The study surveyed North American-based meeting planners with global meeting planning responsibilities to determine how purchasing decisions are made and the most-effective means for Destination Marketing Organizations to market. Results, unveiled at IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt, were profiled by Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings, Smart Meetings and Successful Meetings.






Karyl Leigh Barnes at play

Up Close

Although she was born and raised in a small river town in upstate New York, Karyl Leigh always sought adventure abroad. To date, she’s learned to scuba dive in the Cayman Islands, cycled past tulip fields in Holland, hiked to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, swum Devil’s Pool at the edge of Victoria Falls, and trekked through the wilderness to witness devils feed at night in Tasmania.

Where You’ll Find Karyl Leigh on a Free Day

Karyl Leigh can be found paddling the Delaware, Hudson or Long Island Sound in her kayak, alongside her husband Ben, and scheming how to save money for their next big safari.

Places that Karyl Leigh has Called Home

Narrowsburg, New York

Indianapolis, Indiana

Brussels, Belgium

Elmhurst, New York

Blauvelt, New York

Larchmont, New York

New Rochelle, New York

Toronto, Ontario

Surprising Facts about Karyl Leigh

A Partridge Family Parody: As a child, Karyl Leigh toured the East Coast in a station wagon, performing with her family in a children’s musical. Miraculously, to this day she still enjoys singing with choirs when her schedule allows.

Campfires and Camaraderie: For one week each summer, Karyl Leigh dons her camping khakis and directs a non-profit summer camp in northeast Pennsylvania. She designs programming that fosters understanding and promotes personal growth among rural and urban youth.

The Mighty Adventures of Super Aunt: Karyl Leigh is aunt to a whopping 32 nieces and nephews – at last count – and has learned that there’s nothing better than a few big empty boxes or sofa cushions for building the world’s greatest fort.