Visit Seattle, the city's convention and visitors bureau, has announced that president and CEO Tom Norwalk will retire on March 31, 2022, after 16 years with the organization — 13 of which as its top executive. The CVB's board of directors will conduct a nationwide search for his successor, and is expected to announce the new leader early next year.
During Norwalk’s term, Seattle has set all-time records for tourism visitation and spending. He oversaw the creation of the Seattle Tourism Improvement Area, a dedicated marketing fund assessed from guests at downtown Seattle hotels that keeps the city competitive in the leisure-travel market. Norwalk also is credited with helping change the perception of the city to a year-round destination, overseeing its rebranding and corporate identity, and most recently, leading its pandemic recovery efforts.
Norwalk will retire just as the finishing touches will be put on the Summit building, the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center that is doubling the facility's space and includes a 58,000-square-foot ballroom. The new space is expected to debut in mid-2022.
“Through Tom’s steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to our city, Seattle has cemented its footing as an all-time great tourism destination. The board commends Tom for his incredible service to our organization, our hotel and industry partners, and our region,” said Kevin Clark, president and owner of Argosy Cruises and Tillicum Excursion, who currently chairs Visit Seattle's board.
“It’s been the journey of a lifetime and the greatest professional honor to promote and market the city that I love,” said Norwalk, who graduated from Washington State University and worked for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts for 18 years. “The Visit Seattle organization is home to some of the most talented, passionate and brilliant minds in the industry. While there’s no great time to say goodbye, I am confident we have the right team in place to keep Seattle’s momentum going. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues through the next six months to ensure our continued growth through this critical and exciting time in our city’s history.”