New President/CEO Brings Expertise and Knowledge to Bureau
JACKSONVILLE – Jan. 8, 2013 – Visit Jacksonville announced today that after a national search it has selected Paul Astleford as its next president and chief executive officer. Astleford, arrives in Jacksonville after a successful tour of duty leading Experience Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio, where he served as its president and CEO since 2000.
“I see Jacksonville as a city with huge potential as a destination for corporate, group and leisure travel,” said Astleford. “I look forward to working with the city, community leaders and our hospitality industry and partners to elevate the awareness of all the assets that northeast Florida has to offer.”
Astleford, with more than 42-years of hospitality industry experience, including destination-marketing experience as president and CEO for the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, worked as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Disney Resorts and Hyatt Hotels Corporation, as well. In his most recent role in Columbus, he heightened awareness and recognition of and support for the visitor industry as a powerful economic development engine for Central Ohio. He also restructured and repositioned Experience Columbus to become the acknowledged sales and marketing arm of the city and the recognized orchestrator of the Columbus visitor experience.
Janice Lowe, chair for Visit Jacksonville’s board of directors, said the decision to hire Astleford was based on his strong experience and knowledge of the industry.
“The tourism industry brings in over 3.2 million visitors annually to Jacksonville which have an economic impact of over $1.6 billion dollars. Visit Jacksonville’s sales efforts bring in over 400 conventions, meetings and sports groups annually into Duval County and help to support the 43,000 hospitality industry employees in Northeast Florida. With Paul’s vast experience we expect he will be able to assist in growing these numbers to record levels.”
Kerri Stewart, senior vice president at Infinity Global Solutions, a Jacksonville-based economic development and government affairs firm, has served as interim president for Visit Jacksonville for the last year. “The Visit Jacksonville team is a strong, experienced group of industry professionals” said Stewart. “They are excited about having such a well-respected industry leader at the helm in Jacksonville. The team is dedicated to bringing Jacksonville into the national spotlight and to making it a preferred travel destination in the competitive Florida and U.S. travel markets.”
Astleford starts work at Visit Jacksonville this week.
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Visit Jacksonville is the marketing organization contracted by the Duval County Tourist Development Council (TDC) to champion the growth of business and leisure tourism in Northeast Florida. Along with its nearly 400 tourism partners, Visit Jacksonville stimulates economic impact, quality of life and recognition for the Northeast Florida region. For a closer look at all there is to see and do in Jacksonville, go to www.visitjacksonville.com.
Contact: Katie Kurycki, firstname.lastname@example.org or 904-421-9160.
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