Winds of chamber change |

Winds of chamber change

Don Rogers

The rumor fanning in Vail with a stout wind has Frank Johnson, longtime executive director of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, leaving his post soon.

It even blew down to our office at Eagle-Vail. Folks involved in the rival chamber, the Vail Chamber and Business Association, were abuzz the other day. Naturally their spin was predictable. Is Frank getting fired? Um, no. Not that we can tell, anyway.

Of course, Vail reporter Scott Miller made some calls. Funny thing, no one on the board of the Chamber and Tourism Bureau could quite muster the energy these past couple of days now to call back. That’s a little disappointing from a group that often wants something right now when they’re asking us.

But it’s not a surprise, and no, I’m only a little frustrated with not having someone in a position to know something over there kindly letting us know what’s going on. Or not going on, as the case may be. So the wind blows.

At least Johnson himself answered Miller’s call promptly and was stand-up about answering without going into any detail. There’s one from the organization.

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So Miller asked him about the rumor. Here are Johnson’s remarks: “We’ve had discussions about me leaving, but nothing’s final yet.” “We’ve talked about some changes.” “I’m here for the forseeable future.”

Johnson has been at the helm of this chamber through huge growth and several name changes. The group suffered a setback when the Vail Town Council, weary of the battling between rival chambers, awarded a contract to run the town information booths for the next three years to a small company, Vail Brochure Delivery, independent of either chamber. The Tourism Bureau had the information centers for the past 30 years.

The loss shouldn’t be held against Johnson, though. Holding to the bid for 30 years in a competitive environment? That’s more astounding than something to go after the executive director over. The council made a different choice for a change, right or wrong. Time will tell if it was correct. The Tourism Bureau folks should be proud of the overwhelming support expressed for them, and not the chronically cranky little Vail-only organization. At least their board members return phone calls promptly, though. (And isn’t that the cardinal rule of business these days?)

Meantime, the rumor fans, Scott still awaits his callbacks, and Frank goes to work. For the foreseeable future.

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