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Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association Welcomes Donald Welsh as New President & CEO June 20, 2008

Posted by ICVA Communications in Conventions & Meetings, Expansion & New Development.
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Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association Names Donald Welsh as New President & CEO

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) has named Donald P. Welsh as its new President & CEO. Welsh, 52, who has been the president and CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, will assume his duties with the ICVA on Aug. 1. Welsh succeeds Bob Bedell who announced his retirement last December effective July 31. Bedell has served as president and CEO since 2002.

Welsh said he was attracted to Indianapolis by a mix of both professional and personal reasons. His arrival coincides with the opening of Lucas Oil Stadium in August, the opening of the midfield terminal at Indianapolis International Airport in October, the beginning of construction on expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and construction of the 1,600-room Marriott hotel complex anchored by the 1,000-room JW Marriott. He said Indianapolis is a “marketer’s dream come true.”

A veteran of more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, Welsh was chosen from a nationwide search that began with more than 100 applicants.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Jim Morris, the president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment and ICVA board member who chaired the search committee. “Don is one of the most extraordinary leaders of the convention, tourism and hospitality industry in all of North America. When he came here to visit, he displayed a genuine passion for our community and the importance of this activity for the economy of Indianapolis and Central Indiana.”

“Don’s qualities in particular and the number of exceptional candidates seeking this position reflect the nationwide recognition that Indianapolis is a convention, meetings and tourism destination with a great future,” said Jerry Semler, ICVA chairman of the board. “We have found absolutely the right man to lead the ICVA and the Indianapolis hospitality industry during this exciting phase of expansion and growth.

Prior to becoming president and CEO of the Seattle bureau, Welsh served as its senior vice president for sales and marketing from 2003-2005.

A native of Baltimore, Welsh has served in various sales and marketing capacities for the Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas and Wyndham International.

In 2000-2001, he was president of the Continental Basketball Association, working with former Indiana Pacers coach Isiah Thomas. After the CBA ceased operations, Welsh returned to the hospitality industry as executive vice president for business development at Helms Briscoe, one of the nation’s top meeting planning companies. There, he managed clients such as Four Seasons, Starwood, Marriott and Hilton.
In 2003, he moved to the Seattle CVB as senior vice president of sales and marketing.

As president and CEO in Seattle, he has overseen a staff of 50 full-time employees and a budget of $11 million. In 2007, the 9,000 hotel rooms in the core of downtown Seattle had an occupancy rate of 75 percent.

Welsh successfully rebranded the Seattle CVB in 2006 with the current brand, “Seattle, Metronatural.” He also implemented a Tourism Matters campaign to raise awareness among local citizens and elected officials about the significant impact of tourism.

Welsh and his wife, Jean, have four daughters: Ashley, 24; Laura, 20; Amanda, 18, and Sarah, 14.

The mission of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is to advance Indianapolis tourism and economic growth. The ICVA seeks to increase the number of visitors and their financial impact, expand positive perception of Indianapolis and positively influence the visitor experience. According to a Global Insight report, in partnership with D.K. Shiffllet & Associates, 21.9 million visitors annually provide $3.56 billion in total annual economic impact of tourism on the Indianapolis economy resulting in 66,621 full-time equivalent employment positions in the hospitality industry.

Contact: Bob Schultz, APR, 317-639-4772, bschultz@indianapolis.org