Ensemble Travel Group led the executive appointment news in the travel industry this week with the creation of a new CEO role. The organization’s Board of Directors reports that David Harris, a longtime Ensemble member who has served on its North American and Canadian Advisory boards, will take on the position. Ensemble Co-Presidents Lindsay Pearlman and Libbie Rice will continue in their roles, reporting to Harris. He will be based in Toronto, and will travel to the organization’s New York City offices on a regular basis.
Also this week Protravel International made a major promotion as part of its opening of a new office in San Francisco. Debbie Kessler, a 15-year travel industry veteran who had previously been working out of the luxury travel agency’s Beverly Hills office, is now branch manager for the company’s San Francisco office. She will be charged with growing the new office and its Bay Area clientele.
In hotel news, this week Auberge Resorts Collection announced that Chris Gabaldon will be joining the company as its new chief operating officer, a role in which he will lead Auberge’s corporate operational and human resources strategies, as well as work closely with the on-property teams and hotel owners of the company’s international portfolio. Gabaldon most recently served as the area vice president of luxury brands, America West, at Marriott International, and he has also served in leadership roles at Ritz-Carlton.
Playa Hotels & Resorts this week named three new general managers in the Caribbean and Mexico. Pedro Tomás will serve as GM of Hilton La Romana, Henry Walther as GM of Sanctuary Cap Cana, and Manuel Antonio Perez-Alpuche as GM for both Hilton Playa del Carmen and Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen.
In destination news, this week the British Virgin Islands elected the Premier and Minister Responsible for Tourism Andrew A. Fahie, as well as Territorial At-Large Representative and Junior Minister for Tourism Shereen Flax-Charles. Fahie has been part of the House of Assembly for the past 20 years, while Flax-Charles has served in a number of roles in the tourism industry since she was a child.
In the United States, this week Bellevue, WA, expanded its marketing and communications department, with the goal of boosting the destination’s visitor economy to $2 billion by the end of 2020 and building out more meeting space. Justin Lynch, most recently digital branding manager for Visit Syracuse, is now Bellevue’s director of marketing and communications, while Alexis Scheinman joins the destination from Bellevue Medical Imaging as its communications manager.
Finally, on the East Coast, this week the Williamsburg Tourism Council (WTC) selected Vicki Cimino as its new executive director and chief executive officer. Cimino is currently the director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development and has spent the majority of her professional career providing communication solutions, counsel and creative direction to both government agencies and private sector organizations. At the WTC, she will lead a staff of eight who make up the Office of Marketing and Promotions and manage an annual marketing and sales budget of approximately $9-12M which is generated from sales tax revenue approved by the Virginia General Assembly beginning July 2018.