The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has appointed David Whitaker (pictured) to take over as president and CEO. The appointment is effective 16 August when long-time president and CEO, William Talbert III, will step down to a supporting role before becoming a consultant for the bureau in October.
Whitaker’s appointment follows a six-month nationwide search, the bureau said.
Whitaker had worked for the GMCVB for 17 years, most recently working as the executive vice-president and chief marketing officer. He left Miami in 2007 to work for Toronto’s tourism marketing agency and then Chicago’s in 2016.
Bruce Orosz, the GMCVB bureau chairman, said: “He’s coming home and hopes to do what he loves to do which is help this town and help this community succeed every way that he can help.”
Top of Whitaker’s priority list will be filling out the calendar for the Miami Beach Convention Center, which reopened in 2018 after a three-year, USD$620m renovation. Conventions have been cancelled for much of the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, causing lower occupancy rates at large hotels that depend on meeting business.
“The convention centre is going to be a game changer for Miami and Miami Beach,” Whitaker said. “There’s no reason why it won’t be one of the busiest centres in North America; that’s a tremendous opportunity.”
International travel to Miami is still lagging compared to 2019, but the county’s hospitality sector has rebounded quicker than many in the industry anticipated thanks to increased domestic leisure travel.