Tourism chief hired from Seattle

December 29, 2008
Though few knew what to think when Don Welsh announced in June he was leaving Seattle to become Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association CEO, he's shown he didn't come here to simply wind down his career.

Welsh, 52, took over the reins of ICVA from local hospitality industry veteran Bob Bedell in August. Since then, he's added a senior vice president of marketing and communications to the ICVA's local team and is bolstering the association's staff in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. He began an effort to roll out a branding campaign in the first quarter of 2009, and made no secret of his plans to wrestle business away from the nation's biggest convention cities.

Before becoming CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, Welsh held executive positions with United Airlines, Horizon Air, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., West Hotels and Resorts, and Helms Briscoe, a national meeting planning firm.

Welsh's experience has left him with no shortage of ideas about how to take the city to the next level in the convention tourism game—and even to rid it of "professional panhandlers." The Baltimore native vowed not to let the struggling economy get in the way of growth, and promised to double the city's convention and tourism business within 10 years.

Welsh may be on his way. On Dec. 12, the ICVA announced it has secured a deal to host the FFA National Convention-along with Louisville-on a threeyear rotational basis from 2013-2024. 
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