Visit Spokane has chosen a tourism executive from the Gulf Coast of Texas as its next president and CEO.
Meg Winchester, who has been director of the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau for more than a decade, will begin her new role in Spokane on Jan. 22, according to Visit Spokane, which promotes tourism and convention business for the greater Spokane area.
A certified meeting planner and tourism ambassador, Winchester was instrumental in rebuilding tourism revenue and visitation in Galveston after Hurricane Ike devastated the region in 2008, a Visit Spokane news release said.
“Meg will be a great addition to the team,” Matt Jensen, Visit Spokane board chairman, said in the release. “Tourism is a $1.3 billion industry in greater Spokane, so her understanding and experience will be invaluable. She recognizes that tourism and conventions are important to Spokane’s quality of life and economy.”
During the Visit Spokane interview process, Winchester said, she was drawn to Spokane’s beauty and infrastructure.
“I fell in love with Spokane from the moment I set foot in it,” she said. “I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make this my home and help promote it.”
Winchester said her goals are to work with the hospitality community and regional partners to bring more conventions to Spokane.
“(Visit Spokane) is doing such a great job now, but the potential I see here in Spokane is just amazing,” she said. “I’m so excited to be involved in it.”
Visit Spokane retained SearchWide Global in September to conduct a national search for a new president and CEO.
Winchester’s decades of convention sales and marketing experience stood out among dozens of applicants in the interview process, said Kate Hudson, Visit Spokane spokeswoman.
“We’re really excited to have her here,” Hudson said. “We are looking forward to seeing what direction she takes Visit Spokane in and are looking forward to growing the organization with her.”
Winchester replaces Cheryl Kilday, who had led Visit Spokane for eight years before leaving Oct. 12 to become CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau in South Carolina.
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