by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 10, 2016

After an extensive national search, Al Hutchinson, 57, has been chosen as Visit Baltimore's new president and CEO. He will take the reins of the destination marketing organization on Monday, Nov. 14. 

Most recently, Hutchinson served as president and CEO of Visit Mobile (Ala.), a position for which he was recognized as the 2016 Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance's "Tourism Promoter of the Year." In his new post, he will focus the growth of the convention and tourism industry in Baltimore, overseeing the day-to-day management of all sales and marketing programs, and serving as the hospitality industry's liaison to the business, civic and local community. He also will be required to be able to demonstrate the impact of tourism on the city and state. 

"Visit Baltimore is a strong bureau, well positioned for growth, and I have great confidence that Al is the right leader to build upon recent successes of the organization," said John Frisch, chairman of the Baltimore Convention and Tourism's board of directors. "From hosting a record 30 citywide conventions in 2015, coupled with multiple years of record visitation numbers, to the creation of a separate Visit Baltimore Education & Training Foundation, he is taking over the helm of a very strong organization. I know that the organization, and in turn the city, the region and the state, will benefit from his sales and marketing experience, and strong reputation as a collaborative, transparent leader and effective communicator."

Hutchinson takes over from Ron Melton, who stepped in as interim president and CEO of the bureau on May 6, when Tom Noonan left Baltimore to take over as CEO of the Austin (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau this summer. Noonan, who joined Visit Baltimore in 2007, was noted for steering the organization through the difficult times in June 2015 following death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

Before joining Visit Mobile, Hutchinson served as vice president of convention sales and services at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau for more than 11 years, and also has held positions at the the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center, the Park Hotel in Charlotte and the Richmond (Va.) Metropolitan CVB.

"I look forward to leading Baltimore's tourism efforts, and to working with the Visit Baltimore team, the convention and tourism board of directors, the city's elected officials and the citizens of Baltimore to lead the city to new heights," Hutchinson said in a statement. "I'm excited by the opportunity to take the helm of such a strong organization."

"Al is well-respected within the industry," said Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of the appointment. "We are lucky to have him, and I am confident that he will serve as a strong advocate for tourism in Baltimore while also working to build relationships and partnerships within the community. I was impressed by his passion and perspective on how tourism can further advance Baltimore's economy."