Brad Dean, Chief Executive Officer of Discover Puerto Rico, has been named State Travel Director of the Year by U.S. Travel Association at last week’s ESTO meeting. Since taking the lead of the destination marketing organization in 2018, Dean has guided the Island’s tourism industry through a remarkable period of recovery and growth following various setbacks from hurricanes to the pandemic.
Michael Heckman has been named by Mayor Sylvester Turner as the Chief Executive Officer of Houston First Corporation. He has held the interim position since August 2020.
Lisa Oliveira, CDME, has recently been named President & CEO of the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau in California. She joined the organization in 2016.
Sarah Hupp Foster has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer at Madden Media. She joined the company in 2012 and was most recently serving as VP of Account Strategy.
Kirsten Lynch has been appointed CEO at Vail Resorts, Inc., the world’s leading mountain resort company at iconic locations. She has served in the role of EVP and CMO for the past 10 years.
Julie Holmen is the new Project / Program Lead for Membership Engagement at Destinations International. She joins from MPI and as a former team member at Destination Toronto.
In Tennessee, Matthew Bolas, former director of Discover Bristol, has been tapped as director of the new Bristol Regional Tourism Marketing Corp. For the past four years, Bolas led the tourism development division of The High Road Agency.
Stefanie Zinke moves from Senior International Tourism Sales Manager at The Beaches of Fort Meyers and Sanibel CVB to Director of Global Trade Sales at Visit Tampa Bay.
Todd Mitsuhata has been promoted to Director of Global Business Development at Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. He joined the DMO in 2016.
Sarah Waggoner is the new Tourism Manager at Visit Springfield in Illinois. She joins from the City of Litchfield where she was tourism coordinator for seven years.
Ariel Washington is the new Social Media Coordinator at Visit Tybee in Georgia. She comes to digital tourism marketing with a background in social media and communications.
Duluth, Minn. — Mayor Emily Larson announced plans to pass up longtime Visit Duluth for the city’s next tourism marketing contract worth $1.8 million and instead choose Minneapolis-based Bellmont Partners and its partner, Sioux Falls-based Lawrence & Schiller. The decision comes after a months-long application process that included two local finalists – Visit Duluth and the DECC.
Visit Duluth has held the contract since 1935. In recent years, the DMO has received $2.2 million to provide promotion, marketing and convention sales.
The RFP sent out in May brought in 28 applications – 5 from Duluth, 15 from throughout the state and eight from outside Minnesota. Some local advertising executives have questioned how none of the Duluth firms are selected.
Bellmont presented to the Duluth city council on Aug. 17, 2021 and the agency was approved. Larson has offered Visit Duluth a much smaller $400,000 contract for next year to handle convention coordination and the visitor’s center, but that discussion has been tabled. Read the latest local reporting here.
In Travel Smart News, industry observer Brian London writes, “the situation in Duluth is a good reminder that destination organizations are contracted agencies. Their contract is not promised forever. No need to wait for elected officials in your destination to pull the fire alarm. Take some time to be sure your activities are aligned with the goals and priorities of those who determine your future funding.”
Ocean City, Md. — Tom Perlozzo, Tourism and Business Development Director, City of Ocean City told the local tourism commission that his office is continuing its efforts to identify and rebrand Ocean City’s image.
They have engaged Zartico as a partner to collect data on the visitor base, also working with AirDNA, which provides a snapshot of short-term rental platforms, as well as with Opinionworks, an Annapolis-based independent research organization to conduct the surveys.
Monterey, Calif. — On California’s Central Coast, the Monterey Visitors Center has closed, due to steadily decreasing visitor traffic. Rob O’Keefe, president & CEO of Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which ran the center, indicated to a local reporter that the DMO was spending about $400,000 a year on staffing and maintaining the facility. The services provided will be replaced by an app.
Sedona, Ariz. — Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau has agreed to suspend their destination marketing effort for at least one year. The council voted unanimously to approve a $2.1 million budget minus $250,000 that could have used for destination marketing. The effort to discourage tourists from coming to Sedona stems from council and community members objecting to increased traffic, the trampling of hiking trails, disrespect of Sedona’s sacred sites, overcrowding, the proliferation of Airbnb. Source: Sedona Biz
Boston, Mass. — The local tourism industry in Boston is pushing for a tourism destination marketing district. The district would be able to charge overnight hotel guests an additional 1.5% of the guest’s bill, projected to raise $10 million in its first year, dedicated to a new fund to promote the city.
The fund would be managed by a 15-member committee composed mostly of lodging industry representatives.
Fort Collins, Colo. — The city council agreed to form a tourism improvement district, doubling the lodging tax to 6% and expected to raise $800,000 a year. Three-fourths of annual income from the new fee is budgeted for sales, marketing, communication and destination development. Visit Fort Collins, separate from the Tourist Improvement District, gets 70% of the current 3% fee; the rest goes to the city’s Fort Fund arts and culture grants. Source: Loveland Reporter-Herald
Sonoma County, Calif. — Sonoma County Tourism announced the debut of the “Sonoma Sound,” the destination’s first-ever official soundtrack. Created by local GRAMMY-recognized songwriter Cliff Goldmacher (Keb’ Mo’, Lisa Loeb, Ke$ha), the ‘Sound’ was developed through a collaboration between Goldmacher, Creative Sonoma, and Sonoma County Tourism, with partial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Featuring local artists and recorded at a local studio, the soundtrack is part of an ongoing effort to promote Sonoma County’s brand attributes (“Life Opens Up”) and creative talent.
To highlight how music and well-being intermingles in the region, Sonoma County Tourism and its partners are giving away a truly refreshing and rejuvenating escape to Sonoma County for two with the “Reawaken Your Senses” Experience. Learn more about the project here.
New York City — Despite ticket sales open for a few months, blockbuster shows such as Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked, all of which have been dark for more than 18 months, have yet to sell out their opening week of shows in mid-September.
Producers attribute the sluggish ticket sales to industry volatility caused by the delta variant and industry experts say the muted response is not good news for New York City’s ongoing tourism challenges.
San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to mandate the presentation of proof of full Covid-19 vaccination to access certain venues and activities: indoor restaurants, bars, clubs, fitness facilities, theaters, cinemas, entertainment venues, and large events having 1,000 or more attendees. The updated health order is set to take effect on Aug. 20.
New York City has put a similar restriction in place, however proof of only a first vaccine is required and will be enforced from Sept. 13. There are two official apps, the Excelsior Pass and NYC Covid Safe, but paper is fine too.
In New Orleans effective since Aug. 16, proof of vaccines or a negative Covid-19 test taken within less than 72 hours will be required to enter indoor venues citywide, including bars, restaurants, gyms and music halls.
Los Angeles City Council has voted in favor of drafting a new law to require at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter facilities including indoor restaurants, gyms, stores, movies and theaters. Palm Springs City Council is taking similar steps regarding indoor dining.
Starting this week, Puerto Rico hotels and other lodging require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from within 72 hours for guests and staff alike. This adds another layer of peace of mind, according to Discover Puerto Rico, since the island already has such requirements in place for arriving visitors.
New Orleans & Company has paused its national “Concierge” advertising campaign featuring local actor Wendell Pierce, tagline: “When you’re ready to come back, we’re ready to host.” Metro area and regional dining-centric ads will continue.
Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation has made a similar decision, indicating they’ll review on a month-to-month basis. Source: The Lens NOLA [H/T Travel Smart News]
Sydney, Australia — The new ad campaign from Tourism Australia isn’t about going on vacation…it’s about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. “It’s Our Best Shot for Travel” campaign launched in Australia on August 16 in newspapers, on TV, online and across social media.
Another vaccine-related campaign featuring celebrity Aussie chefs is in the works for later this year. “Put a Jab on the Menu.”