Head of Chamber and Tourism Bureau resigns | VailDaily.com

Head of Chamber and Tourism Bureau resigns

Scott Miller
NWS Economic1 SM 10-19

VAIL ” The “foreseeable future” turned out to be three days.

Just days after denying he was no longer president of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, Frank Johnson announced his resignation, effective Sept. 1. He has led the organization for 14 years and through two name changes.

“It’s been a long, wonderful ride but the VVCTB board and I have decided it’s time for me to move on,” Johnson said in a statement released Friday.

Rumors started running through Vail early this week that Johnson was no longer working for organization, which handles many of the valley’s reservations, runs the Web site visitvailvalley.com, and helps coordinate special events.

He denied those rumors Tuesday, saying, “I’ll be here for the foreseeable future.”

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But Johnson did acknowledge he had talked to the chamber’s board of directors about his future. “We’ve had discussions about me leaving, but nothing’s final yet,” he said.

Johnson started at the chamber in 1991, when it was called the Vail Resort Association. The group’s then concentrated on marketing Vail during non-skiing months.

In 1995, the company changed its name to the Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau and took a more regional approach to local reservations and marketing.

In 2001, Johnson led the merger of the Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau with the Vail Valley Chamber of Commerce to form the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau. The group now has more than 1,000 members.

Through the group’s evolution, it remains a source for lodging reservations. Many of those reservations came from walk-up business through the information centers it ran at the town’s two parking structures.

The group ran the centers for about 30 years before losing the contract for the coming year to Vail Brochure delivery.

Those last-minute reservations are a big part of the business at the Sitzmark Lodge in Vail Village, owner Bob Fritch said.

“They’ve done a very good job in getting us reservations from the information booths,” Fritch said.

“He’s going to be sorely missed,” said Stan Cope, manager of the Lodge Tower condominiums. Cope resigned from the Vail Valley chamber board only recently in order to concentrate on getting a proposed Vail conference center built. But he was president of the Vail Resort Association board when Johnson was hired.

“I’m very proud of where we took the organization,” he said.

But the Vail Valley chamber, and Johnson, came in for criticism for directing tourists to out-of-Vail lodges. And, as the group took a more valleywide approach to its business, the Vail-only Vail Chamber and Business Association sprouted. As that group grew, so did a perception that the two groups were often at odds.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Vail Chamber and Business Association Director Kaye Ferry said. “We worked together very successfully on a number of things. We wish Frank luck.”

As the organization has evolved, so did Johnson’s job.

“Frank has grown and developed his own job as the organization grew,” said Beth Slifer, owner of Slifer Designs and a member of the Vail Valley chamber’s board.

That means there isn’t an exact job description for Johnson’s successor right now. Slifer said the chamber board will start defining the duties of the next director at its next meeting.

“We need to sit down and find what are the next steps to identify the next CEO for what’s now a very large organization,” Slifer said.

“It’s going to be a good job for somebody,” she added. “But it’s a very hard job.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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