Tourism Vancouver board chair Bob Lindsay announced yesterday (August 20) that the organization's president and CEO Rick Antonson will leave to become a full-time book author in June 2014.
Lindsay said in his announcement, "We began planning this over two years ago at Rick’s request, so the transition is strategic. Tourism Vancouver and our industry are heading into some of the most exciting and successful years, so the timing for this transition is very good."
Antonson said, "I’ve always seen myself in this role similarly to the third runner in a four lap relay. If you want to be on the winning team, it’s all about the next runner - and that means the handoff has to be perfect. Management and the Board have had lots of time to plan this transition, so it will go smoothly and set up the organization and our tourism industry for continued successes with the new CEO."
Lindsay noted that under Antonson’s leadership, Tourism Vancouver has played a significant role in shaping Vancouver and B.C.’s future. Tourism Vancouver launched the bid for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games where Antonson served as a Games Ambassador. Tourism Vancouver also initiated the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Taskforce, which led to the new centre that is partially funded by Tourism Vancouver’s $90-million investment. A wide range of programs began during Antonson’s watch, including the organization’s partnership with the City of Vancouver on Keep Vancouver Spectacular (an annual clean-up initiative now in its 19th year) Canada’s largest restaurant promotion, Dine Out Vancouver Festival (now in its 12th year) and Tickets Tonight, which sells over $3.5 million in performing arts and event tickets each year.
Capilano University awarded Antonson an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2011, and he has been inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame. Last year, he was presented with the IMEX Academy Award in Europe. Antonson is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is regularly invited to speak all over the world.
Antonson is author of the widely acclaimed book To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa. He also authored Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street, which the New York Times called "one of the best books of the bunch" in their year-end travel book roundup (2012). He is co-author of the BC bestseller Slumach’s Gold: In Search of a Legend. His forthcoming book is Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark: An Odyssey to Mount Ararat. Antonson said, "I’ve long wished for a few years to concentrate on book topics I’m interested in researching, and I’ll now pursue a writing career full-time."
Best of luck in your future endeavours, Rick!