Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 26 2013

Tourism Vancouver Prepares for Leadership Change

By David McMillin

Each week, PCMA news keeps you updated on who’s moving where in the meetings industry. While that news typically involves planners and suppliers acquiring new titles and shuffling to new meetings-related organizations, one of the tourism sector’s most well-respected leaders is preparing to exit the industry altogether. Tourism Vancouver has announced that its President and CEO, Rick Antonson, will step down in 2014 to become a full-time writer.

This is a move that I’m selfishly excited about. Why? Because it means that I’ll get to read more of Rick Antonson’s writing. Last year, Antonson’s Route 66 Still Kicks was one of my absolute favorite reads. It’s a book filled with small-town characters that showcase a side of the country that’s been forgotten by so many.

“Our world is rushing to a sense of sameness with most big cities - the retail, the architecture and the common standards of facilities,” Antonson told me when the book was released. “The generic city is upon us.”

The book also made an appearance on a list much more coveted than “David’s Personal Favorites.” The New York Times called it “one of the best books of the bunch” in the paper’s year-end travel book roundup.

SEE ALSO: Rick Antonson Celebrates the American Highway

Antonson has spent 20 years at the helm of Tourism Vancouver, and his mile-long list of accomplishments includes a spot in the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the IMEX Academy Award. The city’s progress during his tenure is equally impressive, including a new convention center, a successful bid for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and a rotating cast of 8.3 million visitors who spend approximately $3.6 billion each year.

While finding a replacement for Antonson will be challenging, the city has already been preparing for the task.

“We began planning this over two years ago at Rick’s request, so the transition is strategic,” Bob Lindsay, chair, Tourism Vancouver Board, said. “Tourism Vancouver and our industry are heading into some of the most exciting and successful years, so the timing for this transition is very good.”

There are plenty of reasons for Lindsay and his fellow Board members to be excited about the future in Vancouver. From hosting the TED Conference in 2014 to PCMA’s Convening Leaders in 2016 to putting in place the first-ever Tourism Master Plan, whoever steps into Antonson’s shoes will inherit a destination that continues to stand out on the map for meeting planners, business professionals and leisure travelers alike.

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