|By Melissa S. Monroe, San Antonio
Express-NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Aug. 23, 2006 - After going for more than a year without a leader, the city's tourism industry has a new boss in Scott L. White, who will head the convention bureau starting Oct. 2, the city manager's office said Tuesday.
White, 39, currently is executive vice president of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he's been for eight years. He brings more than 20 years of convention and tourism experience to the city.
His appointment comes at a time when the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau is experiencing phenomenal hotel room bookings, but a lack of top leadership in the city-run agency that oversees the $8.7 billion tourism industry.
In late June, the city's acting bureau director, Janis Schmees, left to head the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. She was in her San Antonio position for less than two years. She filled in for former bureau director Melvin Tennant, who was also at the bureau for about two years. He left abruptly after having a personal relationship with a co-worker.
"The bureau has been in transition for more than a year," said City Manager Sheryl Sculley. "We are looking for Scott to stabilize it, to offer some leadership and bring the staff together and create a cohesive team." Before White signed on with the Phoenix bureau, he served in various senior roles with Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, a brand of Marriott International Inc. He also was corporate sales manager for the former Desert Princess Resort, now the Doral Princess.
While at the Phoenix bureau, White worked under Steve Moore, president and chief executive of the privately run bureau. Moore served as San Antonio's tourism boss for 14 years and now oversees a $13 million budget and about 60 full-time employees in Phoenix.
In comparison, San Antonio has about a $16 million budget and 75 full-time employees.
"I wasn't looking to leave Phoenix, and Steve tried to keep me here," White said from Phoenix. "When you look around the country, there are only a handful of cities that I believe in what they are doing and what they have to offer. I believe in what San Antonio has to offer." He was able to tap Moore for his inside view of San Antonio. White also had a working relationship with Sculley when she was the assistant city manager in Phoenix.
White said his longevity at other places also indicates he doesn't move from city to city looking for career titles.
A long-term commitment to San Antonio is definitely needed at the bureau, said Dan Decker of SeaWorld and a member of the selection process for the bureau.
The tourism bureau has been eager to get a new boss, and White has the credentials for the job, said Marco Barros, director of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.
One priority White will have to take on is Destination SA, a strategic plan to increase the city's $8.7 billion tourism industry by another $1.5 billion in the next several years.
Sculley and local tourism groups have said the plan needs to be implemented soon.
In another change, White will report directly to Sculley instead of to Assistant City Manager Roland Lozano, who served as acting director of the bureau and oversees the agency.
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