The Company You Keep: Tourism Academy Collaborators Selected to Speak At Destinations International

The company you keep is often a reflection of who you are, and at The nonprofit Tourism Academy |, we take great pride in the exceptional collaborators and advisors we work with. This principle is clearly demonstrated by the impressive roster of our esteemed members scheduled to speak at this year’s Destinations International Conference in Tampa. We are inspired by each of these individuals and are immensely grateful for the wonderful achievements we accomplish together, making industry education more transformative, engaging, and accessible. Their expertise and dedication underscore our mission to advance the tourism sector through innovative and impactful educational initiatives.

We are thrilled to announce that several esteemed members of our collaborators and advisors are scheduled to speak at this year’s Destinations International Conference in Tampa this July. This highly anticipated event brings together industry leaders from around the world, fostering dialogue and sharing innovative strategies to advance the tourism sector. We are particularly proud of the significant contributions our network will make through a variety of insightful breakout sessions.

Elevating Talent Retention Strategies for Emerging Leaders

Kicking off the conference is a dynamic workshop aimed at equipping CEOs with advanced talent retention strategies. Ophelie Le Livec, Content Marketing Manager at Destinations International, and Elliott Ferguson, President & CEO of Destination DC, will lead this session. They will delve into real-life scenarios, fostering meaningful dialogue and providing actionable solutions for enhancing talent retention.

Navigating Political Challenges in LGBTQ+ Destination Marketing

Monica Smith, President & CEO of Southeast Tourism Society, will spearhead a critical discussion on navigating political challenges in LGBTQ+ destination marketing. This session will address the complexities of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in destinations where political climates may not be supportive. The IGLTA Foundation's latest research will provide a global perspective on the impact of discriminatory legislation, setting the stage for strategies and best practices in inclusive marketing.

Destination Stewardship: Effectively Integrating Planning and Action

Michael Crockatt, President & CEO of Ottawa Tourism, will share valuable insights from Ottawa's experience in developing and implementing a Destination Stewardship Plan. This session will offer practical advice on gaining community buy-in, implementing effective strategies, and driving long-term destination prosperity.

Expanding Horizons: Embracing Social Inclusion While Maintaining EDI Values

Barbara Karasek, CEO of Paradise - A Source for Good, will discuss the shift from traditional EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) frameworks to a broader focus on Social Inclusion. This session will highlight why this migration is essential, how it will be implemented, and the tools being developed to help organizations and destinations become socially inclusive by 2030.

Talk Nerdy To Me: Psychology & Economics for Destination Organizations

Our very own Stephen Ekstrom, Co-Founder & CEO of The nonprofit Tourism Academy |, will join Chris Ihrig, CEO of Fired Up! Culture, and Sheena Works from The nonprofit Tourism Academy | for an engaging workshop on the intersection of organizational psychology and behavioral economics. Rickey Thigpen, President & CEO of Visit Jackson, will also contribute to this session, which aims to reveal how human behavior influences decision-making within destination organizations and how to leverage these insights for effective marketing campaigns.

Navigating Workforce Development in Tourism: Balancing Long-Term Solutions with Immediate Needs

Mia Blom, Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs at Visit Baltimore, will lead a discussion on workforce development in tourism. This session will explore both long-term strategies and short-term solutions to address the challenges of building and maintaining a diverse, skilled, and fulfilled workforce in the tourism industry.

Influencing VFR Visitors: Strategies to Increase This Segment’s Spend & Engagement with Your Destination

Finally, Anna Blount from Longwoods International and Joseph St. Germain, President of Downs & St. Germain Research, will delve into the strategies for engaging Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) visitors. This session will provide data-driven insights and real-life practices to help destinations tap into this influential segment and enhance their financial contributions and overall engagement.

The Tourism Academy is proud to see our collaborators and advisors taking center stage at the Destinations International Conference. Their expertise and innovative ideas are sure to inspire and drive forward the tourism industry. We look forward to their contributions and the valuable insights they will share with the global tourism community.


Leave a comment