Biweekly Newsletter: November 8, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

I hope you all had a pleasant and productive week. Let me begin by extending our congratulations to the Washington Nationals on their World Series victory, which was the first World Series crown that the franchise has won in its 50-year history. Upwards of a million people attended the parade last Saturday in Washington D.C. Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO of Destination DC, was interviewed before the parade and he discussed the economic impact and visibility Washington, D.C. received during the series and at the parade.


As you all know, a major effort is underway regarding the funding reauthorization for Brand USA. In past newsletters, we have highlighted the continued positive impact and contributions that Brand USA delivers to the U.S. economy. I cannot think of anything more critical than supporting U.S. Travel Association as they continue to work with leaders on the reauthorization.

Yesterday, our members in the United States received a message from us asking them to contact their state representatives and senators and urge them to ask the House and Senate leadership to reauthorize Brand USA this year.

If you haven’t done so already, please take a few moments to share your voice with your representatives and senators. To send a message to Congress, simply click here to access the industry’s Action Alert. You may also access U.S. Travel Association's Brand USA renewal toolkit, including talking points, to guide your conversations with elected officials. Together, we can and must urge Congress to include reauthorization legislation in its year-end package.


Conversely, I had the pleasure of speaking in Mexico City last week at CNET (National Council of Tourism Enterprises). I spoke along with Cathy Ritter, Director of the Colorado Tourism Office and David Goldstein, President and CEO of Destination Canada. We were invited by this distinguished organization to discuss the critical role tourism organizations play in the overall economy of a destination.

Unfortunately, the new President of Mexico abolished all previous funding supporting the Mexican Tourism Board and shuttered all of their highly productive offices around the world. This decision has led to significant declines in business throughout the country along with some severe public relations challenges. The CNET Board is comprised of successful private business leaders throughout Mexico who are now immediately evaluating options to restart their country-wide tourism efforts. We stand ready to help in any way we can.

While at the event, I was able to see some of our partners and friends. I’d like to extend a special thanks to our board member, Dario Flota Ocampo, Chief Executive Officer of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board and Eduardo Chaillo, CMP, CMM, CASE of Global Meetings & Tourism Specialists, LLC for their support with our Latin America initiatives.


Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming our Executive Board Committees for the association and foundation for our annual review of our proposed business plans and budgets for 2020. We continue to be very fortunate to have such a dedicated, experienced and engaged executive group to support our organization’s work and provide counsel. We will be presenting these plans at our upcoming year-end board meeting in Washington, D.C. December 11-12.

This week, we welcomed our Planner Influencer Board to Washington D.C. for a board meeting. This group of influential industry leaders continues to help us refine key strategies and services event organizers have identified as critical for the industry. As a strategic initiative of the association, Destinations International works to elevate the critical role CVBs have on the event planning process and work to educate CVB members with tools, resources and best practices to successfully deliver that value. The Planner Influencer Board will contribute to the association’s overall business events strategy by helping define the key elements CVBs need to deliver on their promise of helping make events successful. You may learn more about our Planner Influencer Board in our recent news release here.


This week, I had the opportunity to celebrate Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, as he was recognized as one of Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs. Not only is Al one of Baltimore’s biggest cheerleaders, he has been a huge supporter of our entire industry and Destinations International. Al serves on our Executive Committee for the association and is a co-chair of our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Congratulations, Al, on this very well-deserved recognition.

Congratulations are also in order for Scott Beck, the newly appointed President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. Scott has been the President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake for the past 14 years and has served previously as the chair for the association as well as a valued board member on both the association and foundation boards. We look forward to continuing to work with Scott in his new role.

We also want to wish Paul Upchurch, current CEO of Visit Milwaukee, all the best as he leaves the destination organization to pursue other opportunities. Paul has been with the CVB for nine years and has been a supporter of Destinations International. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors. We are excited to work with Visit Milwaukee’s new CEO, Peggy Williams-Smith, who will be joining the organization officially on November 18.


Our partners at Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) held their annual LGBTQ+ Tourism Forum in Las Vegas in early November. Matt Ozuna, our Advocacy and Data Manager, represented Destinations International at this event and shared our latest news and research with attendees. Matt had the chance to catch up with our members and learn new insights on issues that impact travel, tourism and the LGBTQ+ community. Congratulations to Thomas Roth and David Paisley on a successful event.

Last week, Andreas Weissenborn, our Senior Director of Research and Advocacy, attended the 58th ICCA Congress in Houston, TX, which was the largest congress ever held in North America. Almost 1,000 meetings professionals representing 75 countries, experienced a cutting-edge program of education, networking and business opportunities. Congratulations to the ICCA team for a record-breaking event.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Madison, WI next week for the eagerly awaited Advocacy Summit. We are pleased to report that over 200 people are registered. We have a few spots left if your schedule allows. You may learn more and register here.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International