Biweekly Newsletter: September 13, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday from Los Angeles,

This has been an epic week for our industry with major events and recognition of a very a special tourism leader. This week clearly reminded me that nothing can replace the value of face-to-face meetings and the connections we make during these types of events.

Last night, I had the privilege and honor of attending an event at the CalTravel Summit honoring Joe Terzi. In late July, Joe announced that he is retiring as President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. Joe has done an incredible job leading the tourism industry for both the San Diego region and for California. Under Joe’s direction and vision, the bureau has expanded their focus and influence from the west coast to the current broad reach of the entire U.S. and eight countries with a fully integrated destination sales and marketing plan. While Joe will retire from the daily leadership of the organization, he will continue to provide project leadership for key issues such as the Convention Center expansion and the Balboa Park Plan. 

Joe received the F. Norman Clark Tourism Champion of the Year Award for 2019 from CalTravel. This award recognizes excellence in California tourism leadership by a person, organization, or entity, for activities in a particular year or to acknowledge a body of work in tourism. The award recognizes activities which have contributed to building the image of California and for contributing to increasing visitor arrivals to the state. Congratulations to all of the CalTravel Award winners:

  • Tourism Advocacy Industry Leader – Michael K. Krouse, President & CEO, Greater Ontario CVB
  • F. Norman Clark Tourism Champion of the Year Award – Joe Terzi, President and CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority
  • Advocate for the Homeless Award – Harry S. Sidhu, P.E., Mayor of Anaheim
  • Sustainability Advocate Award – Monterey County CVB, Tammy Blount-Canavan
  • Great Workplace Award – Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau
  • Visitor Experience Award – Seth Zaharias, Owner of Cliffhanger Guides

Congratulations also to all of the 30 and Under Emerging Leaders who were also recognized!

Thanks and congratulations to Barb Newton, President/CEO of CalTravel and her entire team on a successful event. You may click here to view a photo from the event.


We had the opportunity to see the great work of Brand USA with its first-ever Travel Week in London earlier this week. This is a major initiative by our Board member, Chris Thompson and his team to provide a highly curated event to showcase U.S. destinations to many of the top travel buyers in Europe. The event saw a total of 468 attendees participating, with 179 buyers from 154 companies across 20 countries in Europe holding 20-minute meetings with 97 exhibitors from the USA. In all, there were 3,420 appointments undertaken. 

As you can imagine an undertaking such as this was no small feat and it was executed flawlessly by Brand USA and their partners at Hills Balfour. Needless to say, this new program is in the category of bold and progressive. We look forward to next year’s event, which will also take place in London, before heading to Germany, France and the Netherlands in rotation with the UK until 2025.


From London, I joined Melissa Cherry and Nina Winston at IMEX America, where over 14,000 planners, exhibitors and suppliers from 150 countries came together in Las Vegas for three highly productive days of connection, education and inspiration.

We attended the annual Rendezvous event, an annual fundraiser to support the MPI Foundation’s work. Congratulations also to Paul Van Deventer and the MPI team for another successful event during IMEX America.

Building engagement with destination leaders from across the globe, we shared information about our new Global Affiliates program during IMEX America. We also connected with many of our top corporate and industry partners as we continue to develop our 2020 events and programs. Special thanks to Board member, Brad Dean with Discover Puerto Rico, Ana Maria Viscasillas with Business Tourism Services and Eduardo Chaillo with Global Meetings and Tourism Specialists, LLC, for their leadership in supporting our IMEX America efforts.

Matt Ozuna, our Advocacy and Data Manager, had the opportunity to attend the Future Leaders Forum taking place at IMEX. This joint initiative by IMEX, MPI and MCI has taken place since 2003 and serves to prepare and inspire the next generation of professionals in the meetings and events industry.

Of course, the week was also complemented with the recognition of the Event Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders event on Tuesday evening where our good friends and industry colleagues were recognized and honored for their immense contributions to our industry. Congratulations to the inductees:

  • Michael Dominguez, CHSE with ALHI
  • David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA with IAEE
  • Anne Daly Heller with USAE
  • Carole McKellar, MA, CMM with HelmsBriscoe
  • Barry Smith, CMA with Convention Centres Canada
  • Ellsworth Milton Statler (posthumously) with Statler Hotels

Thanks again and congratulations to Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer for another exciting IMEX and for their support of our industry and Destinations International.


I know we have all been watching the heartbreaking destruction that has taken place to two of the major islands in the Bahamas – Grand Bahama and Abaco – because of Hurricane Dorian. We continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers and have been in touch with our friends and partners in the Bahamas on how we can help. The Islands of the Bahamas has been keeping their website up to date with the latest news and information. You may click here to learn more about what you can do to help.

Inspiration and human kindness seem to especially be on display during times of crisis. Many of you may remember José Andrés, a local chef and humanitarian based in Washington, D.C., from our 2018 Destination Showcase. He and his team at World Central Kitchen are some of the first on the ground after a disaster takes place. World Central Kitchen is close to many hearts on our team and we continue to be amazed at what José and his team have done to help those affected by natural disasters. World Central Kitchen has been distributing food in the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit early last week and has served more than 100,000 free meals in the Bahamas. We encourage you to learn more about World Central Kitchen’s initiatives and donate here. Destinations International will be making a donation to World Central Kitchen to aid them in their ongoing efforts.

We have also been in touch with our members in other parts of the Bahamas. The Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board is working to support the affected islands while still getting the message out that they were not impacted and are open for business. Over 70 percent of the island’s GDP is based on tourism and they need your business more than ever. Please help them spread the word that the island is open. You may learn more here.


Two weeks ago, we announced the latest updates for the Destination Organization Performance Reporting platform (formerly the Organization and Financial Profile Study) to better understand current organization funding, expenditures, trends and performances of destination organizations. Access to the platform is complimentary and exclusive to destination organization members of Destinations International who participate in the data collection. This year, we have added a new diversity and inclusion section, reworked the funding section powered by Civitas Advisors and updated the destination metrics section. You may click here to learn more.

Applications are now open to participate in a number of the Destinations International and Destinations International Foundation standing committees. This is your opportunity to help shape the future of the association, foundation and industry. You may click here to see a list of committees and to submit an application. Please contact Chelsea Welter at [email protected] if you have any questions.


At the end of August, our partners at European Cities Marketing (ECM) hosted their 33rd ECM Summer School in London. We were fortunate enough to have Kristin McGrath, VP of Sales, Services and Sports from Visit Albuquerque attend on behalf of Destinations International and teach a course over the 4-day program. Kristin incorporated DMAP standards specifically related to sales best practices and the importance of using the Event Impact Calculator (EIC) into her presentation.

Additionally, we would like to congratulate the four Destinations International Foundation scholarship winners who were chosen to attend and take advantage of this global education opportunity:

  • Christopher Brislin, Director of Sales, Providence Warwick CVB
  • Nancy Jackson, Manager Travel Trade, Tourism Calgary
  • Erin Simcox, Senior Manager of Housing, Visit Knoxville
  • Crystal Walker, Director of Sales & Services, Dayton CVB

To learn more about ECM’s Summer School, you may click here.


As I have said in the past few newsletters, we are ready to embark on fall summits, and we urge you and your team to attend. Please take a look at the upcoming summits and register now.

Many of us will be heading to Seattle, WA next week for the Annual US China Travel Summit. As you can imagine, this is a very important annual gathering of industry leaders from the United States and China. We look forward to seeing many of you in attendance.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International