The Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Authority has tapped Donald Welsh to become its new president and CEO, effective August 1. Welsh, who most recently served as president and CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, was selected after a nationwide search of more than 100 applicants. He will succeed Bob Bedell who has held the position since 2002 and will retire from ICVA July 31.
Welsh will take the helm amid many new developments for Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium, a new sports facility that will replace the city’s RCA Dome, is scheduled to open in August, followed by the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center, with completion scheduled for 2010. Other developments include the midfield terminal at Indianapolis International Airport, opening in October, and the city’s largest hotel, a 1,000-room JW Marriott, set to open in early 2011 as part of a four-property Marriott hotel complex that will connect to the expanded convention center.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Jim Morris, ICVA board member and chairman of the search committee, in a statement. “Don is one of the most extraordinary leaders of the convention, tourism, and hospitality industry in all of North America … He displayed a genuine passion for our community and the importance of this activity for the economy of Indianapolis and Central Indiana.”
A 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Welsh brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having held sales and marketing positions with Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, Wyndham International, and HelmsBriscoe.