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Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

SDTA CEO Tapped for National Tourism Board

TOURISM: Coker Will Advise U.S. Commerce Secretary on Tourism, Travel

Add National Tourism Board Leader to Julie Coker’s resume.

Julie Coker
San Diego Tourism Authority

Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, was appointed earlier this month to the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and will join nearly three dozen other tourism and travel leaders in the national coalition.

The group of national leaders is tabbed with providing recommendations, insight and guidance to the Secretary of Commerce on travel priorities that will benefit travelers – and the national travel economy. The coalition also offers counsel on current and emerging issues to support further growth in the travel and tourism industry as the nation’s economic engine.

Coker, who has been guiding the SDTA since 2020, will now be able to give San Diego an even greater presence and voice in addressing government policies and programs that impact the travel and tourism industry.

“For me to be able to join with 31 other travel leaders advising Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and the Commerce Department, especially coming out of Covid and rebuilding, but also looking toward growth in the future, is exciting,” Coker said. “Especially here in San Diego where tourism is the industry that it is and the economic engine that it is, for us to have a seat at the table as we shape travel policies for the future is so important.”

Gina Raimondo
U.S. Secretary of Commerce

“Travel and tourism returned with force in 2022 as we opened up our country once again to visitors from around the globe,” Raimondo said. “Since Day 1 of the Biden administration, the Commerce Department has taken decisive actions to support this industry’s recovery. The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board plays a vital role in providing expert recommendations and industry insight to optimize the American travel experience.”

Impressive Resume

Coker was previously president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau following a 21-year career with Hyatt Hotels. She currently serves on several other boards, including as an executive committee member for Visit California. A member of the California Travel Association, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Downtown San Diego Partnership, Coker is also an executive committee member of the U.S. Travel Association and Destinations International.

This week, Coker said it is “critical for our state and city… to be involved in shaping policies that will support our industry, strengthen its economic influence and create new job opportunities.”

TTAB was first chartered in 2003 and has been re-chartered nine times. Past boards have provided advice on a wide range of policies and issues, including travel facilitation, visa policy, infrastructure, aviation security, tourism research, climate and economic sustainability.

Attracting Visitors to the U.S.

“We were pleased to select Julie Coker to serve on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory board, and we look forward to working with her as the travel and tourism industry continues to recover from the pandemic,” said Mark Keam, deputy assistant secretary for Travel and Tourism, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Mark Keam
Dep. Asst. Secretary for Travel and Tourism
U.S. Department of Commerce

“As citizen members of this board, Julie and her colleagues from the private sector will provide our agency with on-the-ground insights and expert recommendations to help us better execute the new National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which will attract more visitors to the United States and enhance their experiences of the many great destinations in our country.”

The San Diego Tourism Authority’s mission is to drive visitor demand to economically benefit the San Diego region. The SDTA is comprised of more than 900 member organizations, businesses, local governments and individuals.

Tourism is the second largest segment of San Diego’s economy and employs about 200,000 people across more than 12,000 businesses.

“I am excited to talk with travel professionals across the country about where we are as an industry and how we move forward,” Coker said.

Coker said that the advisory board meetings will be hybrid, with some in person, and some through electronic means. She said she was looking forward to going to meetings in Washington, D.C. because a lot of convention customers are in that area.

She also said that San Diego’s concerns, including travel facilitation, aviation security and visa policy  impact travel across the country, but are especially key issues locally. “The confidence that travelers have in travel, especially air travel, really is important to San Diego,” Coker said. “Having the opportunity to work on opportunities and challenges like that really are important. In some countries, the wait time to get a visa approved has really skyrocketed.

“And some of those countries are key countries for us here in San Diego. So being able to work with travel leaders on those types of issues and policies that the Secretary may be considering is really important for us.”

San Diego Tourism Authority

BUSINESS: Nonprofit mutual benefit corporation with nearly 1,000 members promoting San Diego
REVENUE: $27M (2021)
WEBSITE: sandiego.org
CONTACT: 619-232-3101
SOCIAL IMPACT: San Diego Tourism Authority has a Tourism Accelerator program that seeks to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the tourism industry
NOTABLE: SDTA’s mission is to drive visitor demand to economically benefit the San Diego region with a vision of leading San Diego to become the most desirable destination.

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