Appointed to the post just last December, David West resigned abruptly on June 24th as vice president of Travel Michigan. The position is the de facto equivalent of state tourism director. No reason was given for the move. “He made the decision to resign his position. It was effective immediately,” said Travel Michigan spokesperson Michelle Grinnell, who would say nothing more to a journalist’s inquiry. Taking over as acting director of Travel Michigan is Dave Lorenz, who has served as manager of international marketing and industry relations for more than a decade. West came to Travel Michigan from the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, where he had been vice president of marketing for five years. West succeeded George Zimmermann, who retired from the post at Travel Michigan after more than 12 years.
Sebastian Ebel has been appointed chief executive of Tui Deutschland, effective immediately—this is six months earlier than had been planned—as Christian Clemens, the former CEO, has stepped down early to return to Sweden with his family in order that his children are able to attend their new school in August. As a member of the Tui Group’s executive board, Ebel is in charge of the cruise and hotel business, as well as Tui Destination Services and IT.
Al White, the director of the Colorado Tourism Office, is shifting to the role of a senior adviser and lobbyist within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, where he White will advise the tourism office, Colorado Brand and Marketing, the new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. White has headed the state’s tourism office since January 2011. A Republican, he was appointed to the post by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Before taking the position, White was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives for eight years and the state Senate for two.
Jolanda Nazario as director of business development for Milwaukee-based Mark International. She joins the company from Kuoni Travel, where she worked for 11 years as director of sales for its AlliedTPro division, overseeing the international market, before relocating 12 months ago to their its GTA division overseeing the domestic market as director of sales for Travelbound. Previously, Mazario held positions at Hard Rock and Helmsley hotels in Orlando and New York City.
Keith Backsen is leaving his post as vice president of sales and services for Visit Spokane, and is taking over as president and CEO of the Omaha CVB. He succeeds Dana Markel, who held the position for more than 11 years. Markel recently took on the job of president of the in Overland Park (Kansas) CVB in order to be closer to her family. Prior to his tenure in Spokane, Backson served in several senior sales positions for Global Experience Specialists. He began his career in the travel and tourism industry in 1993 as a convention sales manager for Travel Portland.
Discover The Palm Beaches—the official tourism marketing agency for Palm Beach County, Florida—has appointed Ashley Svarney as director of public relations and communications. Svarney will oversee public relations for the hospitality, leisure, meetings and conventions, and travel markets targeted by the organization, and also manage contracts with the group’s public relations agencies and PR-related opportunities in South Florida and also in Brazil. Before joining Discover The Palm Beaches, Svarney was public relations manager at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Shannon Brooks has left her post as international public relations manager for Visit California, where she had served for more than four years, to open her own Los Angeles-based public relations and communications consulting firm, FORWØRD. Before her work for Visit California, Brooks had served for more than a decade as vice president of communications for the Santa Barbara CVB and Film Commission.
Gregg Gant has left his post as business development director at Travelzoo and joined Tourism New Zealand as senior trade manager. Before being a part of Travelzoo, Gant had been an account executive at Miles, working on partnership marketing/advertising sales for the Miles and Brand USA.