Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver | BCBusiness

Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver | BCBusiness
Rick Antonson

Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver’s President & CEO, is leaving the destination marketer after 20 years at the helm to become a full-time book author next June

Who says book publishing is a dying industry? Not Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver’s President & CEO. The man who has led Vancouver’s tourism and hospitality’s marketing association for two decades, through the Olympic Games and securing the TED Conference, will leave to become a full-time book author next June.

Tourism Vancouver board chair Bob Lindsay made the announcement this morning, saying the announcement was not a surprise. "We began planning this over two years ago at Rick’s request, so the transition is strategic. Tourism Vancouver and our industry are heading into some of the most exciting and successful years, so the timing for this transition is very good."

Tourism is Metro Vancouver’s largest industry, with 8.3 million visitors visiting annually, spending nearly $3.6 billion, according to Tourism Vancouver. Tourism Vancouver is a not-for-profit association with 1,000 members and a $14 million budget, 60 full time staff and 200 volunteers. The organization builds customer relationships with meeting planners, travel influencers, travel media and independent tourists. “Management and the Board have had lots of time to plan this transition, so it will go smoothly and set up the organization and our tourism industry for continued successes with the new CEO," says Antonson.

Antonson is author of To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa. He also wrote Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street, which the New York Times called "one of the best books of the bunch" in their year-end travel book roundup (2012). He is co-author of the B.C. bestseller Slumach’s Gold: In Search of a Legend and his forthcoming book is Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark: An Odyssey to Mount Ararat

Antonson also wrote for BCBusiness about his time at the last TED Conference in Long Beach, California.

"I’ve long wished for a few years to concentrate on book topics I’m interested in researching,” says Antonson. “And I’ll now pursue a writing career full-time." Antonson will remain as CEO until June 2014 or until his successor has been hired. Tourism Vancouver has retained the executive search firm Odgers Berndtson to conduct an international search for the organization’s next president and CEO. The Board of Directors has established a search committee to oversee the selection process.