Tourism Walla Walla hires new director

He is expected to be officially introduced today during Tourism Walla Walla's 5 p.m. annual meeting.

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WALLA WALLA — A travel industry leader who has spearheaded Alaska’s tourism association for the last decade has been chosen as the new executive director for Tourism Walla Walla.

Ron Peck will bring more than 35 years of travel and tourism experience when he starts in the agency’s top administrative job March 18, officials announced.

He is expected to be officially introduced today during Tourism Walla Walla’s 5 p.m. annual meeting at the Columbia Rural Electric Association’s new Melrose Avenue office.

Peck succeeds Michelle Liberty, who resigned from the position in October after seven months on the job.

“Ron’s experience directing the state of Alaska’s travel marketing efforts and growing the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry will be a tremendous asset as we continue working to increase the number of leisure, group and business travelers to the Valley,” said Tourism’s new board President Scott Peters in a prepared statement. “That experience, coupled with his familiarity with the Pacific Northwest and his enthusiasm for Walla Walla, really helped separate Ron from a strong group of candidates.”

Peck is expected to direct the development, planning and execution of the destination marketing strategies established by the 15-member board of directors with input from the board marketing committee, according to an advertising description for the position.

The job was advertised at a salary range of around $75,000 depending on experience, plus bonus opportunities and a competitive benefits package.

Last year’s budget was around $600,000, funded largely by a room tax through hotels and dispersed by the city.

The move marks a return to Washington state for Peck.

“Walla Walla has done a great job of establishing and being true to its brand, and I look forward to applying my experience toward promoting that brand while continuing to learn and grow in the process,” Peck said in a statement. “I am excited to be back in Washington, and my wife and I are looking forward to actively promoting and recreating in a great part of the state.”

In his role in Alaska, he led the organization through periods of growth, challenge and recovery, according to the announcement. He also spent four years simultaneously serving on the U.S. Travel Association board of directors. Before heading the travel association, he was director of sales and marketing for Alyeska Resort, and director of sales and marketing for Princess Tours and Princess Alaska Lodges. He started his career in 1977 as a reservations and customer service agent for Alaska Airlines.

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