Explore Asheville CVB Names New Chief

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) announced the selection of nationally-recognized and former North Carolina tourism executive Victoria “Vic” Isley as President and CEO of Explore Asheville CVB – Convention & Visitors Bureau. Isley, who has worked diligently for diverse communities throughout her career, starts December 1. Her appointment was approved today at a special meeting of the BCTDA board.

Isley succeeds Stephanie Pace Brown, who announced last
April that beginning July she would be taking an out-of-state position in the
private sector.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Isley began her career in tourism in the
mid-1990s at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau as the director of
marketing and communications. After nearly two decades that included senior
executive positions at Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and
Destination DC in Washington, D.C., Isley was selected as chief operating
officer at Destination Marketing Association International, representing 600
official destination marketing organizations worldwide, commanding $2.5 billion
in annual budgets. She also assumed the role of executive director for the
organization’s foundation.

Most recently, Isley served as chief sales and marketing
officer for Bermuda Tourism Authority for more than six years, where she was
responsible for setting strategic direction, creating and managing the $25
million annual budget, and overseeing the New York City office with a staff of
19 and all global marketing, sales, crisis communications, media relations,
social media and promotions.

Isley is a highly sought-after public speaker, recognized
for her knowledge, expertise and evolving perspective of destination
marketing.  She was named one of the “Top
25 Extraordinary Minds” in the travel industry by Hospitality Sales and Marketing
Association International (HSMAI).

Isley was selected for the top position at Explore Asheville
among candidates from destination marketing organizations of all sizes
throughout the country, in an exhaustive national search that began months ago
by SearchWide Global, which specializes in recruiting for the travel, tourism,
hospitality, and associated industries.

Led by BCTDA past chair and current vice chair Gary Froeba,
managing director of The Omni Grove Park Inn, a local committee comprised of 10
tourism/business leaders and elected officials narrowed the field to 12; six
candidates were then invited for in-person interviews. Three finalists were
selected to return for a second interview, which included a presentation by
each candidate on how tourism can lead the community’s continued recovery from
the impacts of the pandemic.

With a staff of 26, Explore Asheville works under the oversight of the Buncombe County TDA to execute an extensive strategic marketing and sales program that inspires visitation and group meetings and travel while showcasing and providing free marketing opportunities to more than 1,300 local businesses and nonprofits, many of them small and micro-sized operations. More than 4 million overnight visitors contribute to annual tourism expenditures of $2.2 billion in Buncombe County, generating $881 million in income for nearly 28,000 jobs.

Since the start of the global pandemic, BCTDA has worked
closely with leaders from the County, City and business community on pandemic
recovery efforts that will continue to be a priority into 2021. Among the
initiatives that also included collaboration with local and state elected
officials was the establishment and disbursement of a $5 million relief grant
program to help nearly 400 local small businesses reopen, creating or restoring
4,800 tourism-related jobs.


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