Who’s Where in Travel: Scenic Eclipse Captain, New Destination Execs

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From the captain of a major new cruise ship to several new developments in destination marketing organizations and tourism authorities, it’s been another busy week for executive appointments in the travel industry. 

This week Scenic appointed James Griffiths as captain of the Scenic Eclipse, the first ship in the line’s new Discovery Yacht series that is set to launch August 15. Griffiths has an extensive background in expedition cruising, Scenic said, having served as expedition captain with Windstar and captain of Lindblad’s National Geographic Explorer, as well as spending 11 years with Cunard Lines.

In destination news, this week VisitDallas announced that Phillip Jones is stepping down as the organization’s president and CEO after spending 15 years there. As reported by the Dallas Business Journal, the VisitDallas Board of Directors and Jones said that they came to a mutual decision on the matter. Sam Coats will serve as interim CEO while the search for a successor is underway. 

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In Europe, Christophe Berger was named director of conventions Malta, assuming responsibility for developing the destination’s MICE market. Berger has lived in Malta for 20 years, working in various roles in the hospitality and tourism industry, including positions at the Grand Hotel Mercure Selmun Palace and at the Intercontinental Malta. He will work with Michelle Buttigieg, the Malta Tourism Authority representative in North America, to head a public/private sector MICE delegation from Malta to IMEX Las Vegas this September. 

In the Caribbean, this week the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) announced the appointment of Kevin Thompson as its sales executive in the U.S. market. He will support the GTA’s in-market director of sales, Christine Noel-Horsford, bringing more than 15 years of experience to the role. 

In hotel news, this week Grand Residences Riviera Cancun hired Tara Downing as its wedding business development manager as part of an expansion of its destination weddings division. Downing has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and sales, most recently as a licensed associate broker for Village Properties of Mineola

Also in Mexico, this week Park Royal Hotels and Resorts, which manages properties throughout the country, as well as in Miami, Puerto Rico and Buenos Aires, appointed its first U.S.-based business development manager, Charlotte Carral. She will be based in Atlanta and act as the company’s liaison in North America with the organization’s key trade partners. Carral has spent the past 18 years serving as a senior sales executive for the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau; prior to that, she held positions with the Cancun Convention Center, Palace Resorts and Vacation Express

Also this week, Maybourne Hotel Group named Alper Toydemir as its director of East Coast sales. He will be responsible for strengthening and supporting the company’s sales initiatives on the East Coast. Maybourne Hotel Group manages Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley

In the United States, the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto hired Connie Villeta as its director of sales and marketing. 

Finally, in air travel news, this week American Airlines promoted Alice Curry to the role of vice president of customer care, succeeding JonCarlo Gulbranson, who has moved to the role of vice president of operations and crew performance. In her new role, Curry will lead the airline’s teams that oversee reservations, flight availability and operations monitoring, reporting to Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president of customer experience. 

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