Alfredo Gonzalez, who last month resigned his vice president of international sales and global development at Visit Florida, as the latter undergoes a major restructuring, has established the AG Hospitality Group, a multi-purpose consulting and marketing firm to serve clients in the leisure tourism and hospitality business sectors. Well-known in the Florida tour and travel industry, Gonzalez had been with Visit Florida for nearly three years following a stint of more than four years in a senior management position at Brand USA. Previously, he had served for more than 14 years with the Fort Lauderdale CVB.
Ardent, the Australian company that operates theme parks and other leisure tourism properties in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., has former Walt Disney executive Randy Garfield as an independent non-executive director, following a search by global recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles. The move comes after Ardent chief executive Simon Kelly told investors not to underestimate the potential of the group’s U.S. business. Garfield worked in senior roles at The Walt Disney Company for almost 21 years, including as executive vice president of worldwide sales and travel operations for the group’s theme parks. Retiring in 2014, he also served on the board of directors of Brand USA.
Denise Atkinson—the former head of sales at JacTravel, where she worked for more than two decades—has been appointed head of sales at B2B accommodation supplier Travellanda. A statement from the company said that she has been charged with “driving growth” and “taking company to the next level”.
Melissa Wade has been named senior communications director of Visit Pittsburgh. Wade previously served as public health information officer for the Allegheny County Health Department and as creative services producer and event coordinator for CBS/KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.
It’s now Visit Rapid City. For the past year, the Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau has worked closely with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce to create an independent organization known as Visit Rapid City. The new name and brand is also marked by a move to new offices in Rapid City.
Boris Raoul will take up the position of CEO for the Invia Group Germany, the new name of Unister Travel, in September with responsibility for all the tour operator, flights and other portals of distribution. At the same time, he will be CEO of Invia Travel Germany, the parent company of package holidays portal Ab-In-Den-Urlaub. Raoul, who was a senior manager at FTI for 12 years, was head of Unister Travel for two years until March 2016. The Unister group declared insolvency in July 2016 following the death of founder Thomas Wagner. Rockaway Capital, owner of the Czech group Invia Group bought the former Unister Travel portals as of April 2017.
In Brazil, the entire technology area of the consolidator Rextur Advance, a CVC-owned brand, has been put under the leadership of Luciano Guimarães, who is the company’s vice president of operations and marketing. The move follows the departure of André Freller—he was one of the founders of Rextur Advance, which was acquired by CVC in late 2014—to the Technology Committee of the CVC Group.
Audrey Brooks-Wiggins has been appointed head of sales for Funway Holidays. She joins the company from Thomas Cook, where she was head of trade partnerships. Her appointment follows the departure of sales director Amanda Darrington earlier this year. Brooks-Wiggins had been with Cook since 2014 as senior account manager and going on to be head of the commercial and merchandising sales team, before being made head of trade partnerships in January 2016. Prior to that she worked for XL Leisure Group, Hays Travel, and First Choice.
Kane Pirie has been named managing director of the new bespoke tour operator Vivid Travel. Pirie is the former chief executive of Travel Republic—he co-founded the company in 2005, leaving it and the tourism industry in 2013 to serve as ambassador for the World Land Trust.
Richard Singer has been appointed as managing director of Monarch Holidays, succeeding Richard Francis who is moving to the role of deputy chief financial officer at Monarch Group. Singer was previously president for Europe at deals publisher Travelzoo, where he worked for five years. He will begin his new job on October 10.