Destination leaders Todd Davidson, president and CEO of Travel Oregon, and Spurgeon Richardson, the former longtime president of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be honored as the 2018 inductees into the U.S. Travel Association Hall of Leaders.
Distinguished individuals are named to U.S. Travel’s Hall of Leaders for “sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry, stimulated greater achievement, and raised industry-wide standards.” Recipients of the award are for serving their place of employ with excellence, but also for contributions that have elevated travel nationally and globally.
“Beyond being innovative and thoughtful leaders who represent the best in destination promotion and management, Todd and Spurgeon have been leaders in promoting travel as a bridge that brings people and cultures together,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.
Davidson was appointed executive director of Travel Oregon in 1996 and was named its Chief Executive Officer in 2004. Under his leadership, travel and tourism in Oregon has grown into an $11.8 billion industry.
Davidson has led or served on multiple committees that have required spending much time in Washington and have greatly strengthened travel for all—and he did it while consistently leading Travel Oregon to new heights. Davidson is a past chair of U.S. Travel and the Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and in 2016, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation appointed Davidson to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure.
Among Davidson’s many accomplishments, he strengthened Travel Oregon’s international marketing, helped it become a leader in sustainable tourism initiatives and produced award-winning publications, niche-oriented websites and advertising campaigns. As a result, Davidson was named State Tourism Director of the Year in 2006, and Travel Oregon has earned 20 Mercury Awards, including two top awards for Best Overall State Marketing, in 2010 and 2013.
“Todd has built one of the great state travel promotion organizations in our country, and has given his time to advance our industry by serving selflessly on numerous federal committees and boards, and chairing the U.S. Travel board,” said Dow.
Richardson served as marketing director and then president and CEO of Six Flags Over Georgia from 1968 to 1991, and then served 17 years as president and CEO of the Atlanta CVB. During his tenure, Atlanta became one of the first bureaus in the country to develop a cultural tourism department, launch a destination website, begin a diversity marketing program and start a charitable foundation. He was also critical to the success of the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta.
Richardson served as chairman of the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (now Destinations International), the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, and the Georgia Hotel and Travel Association, and is a former president of the Southeast Tourism Society.
“Spurge oversaw the Atlanta CVB’s tremendous growth by being a principled and visionary leader who recognized travel’s ability to bring together people from all backgrounds,” said Dow. “He pioneered the promotion of travel via the then-new internet, and also the marketing of his destination to a broad array of demographic groups—which served to elevate both the cultural and business environment of Atlanta. Either of those achievements is remarkable on its own, with those practices having become standard across the industry—and the fact that Spurge can lay claim to both is extraordinary.”
With these inductions, 96 travel industry professionals have been inducted into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders since it was created in 1969. The 2017 inductees were Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, and Randy Smith, founder and chairman of travel research firm STR.
Davidson and Richardson will be honored during a dinner attended by more than 100 travel industry leaders at a November 13 dinner during the U.S. Travel fall board meeting in Washington, D.C.