Ernest Wooden will retire at the end of June.
Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board president and CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. will retire on June 30, he announced today. The tourism leader has held the organization's top job since 2013.
Wooden has been instrumental in helping to grow Los Angeles tourism into a $37 billion industry. He shifted the organization's marketing to focus on economic prosperity and job creation, and the 534,000 L.A. County jobs supported by tourism (until recently) is the highest total on record for the county. Wooden set the goal of welcoming 50 million visitors to L.A. by 2020 -- and the city met that number two years early, thanks in part to Wooden's ability to rally city leaders and the hospitality community around that goal.
"Ernie has transformed the Los Angeles Tourism organization, engineering a team, infrastructure and programming that has gained the unwavering support of the city and hospitality community, and of Angelenos as a whole," said Alan Rothenberg, chair of 1st Century Bank and chair of the board for Los Angeles Tourism. "I applaud the tremendous work he has accomplished during his tenure, for which we are grateful."
Wooden also bolstered international visitation to L.A. by expanding the organization's presence in China. In addition to the existing office in Beijing, under Wooden's tenure L.A. Tourism opened full-time offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The LATCB is the only U.S. municipal marketing organization with offices in China, and the top U.S. city now for Chinese travelers. Wooden led the launch of the "Everyone Is Welcome" initiative in 2017, promoting inbound international travel as a vehicle for cultural exchange.
A career-long member of the hospitality industry, Wooden started as a bellman and worked his way up to executive roles with Omni, Sheraton and Hilton -- including as executive vice president of global brands for Hilton, overseeing all worldwide branding initiatives across 80 countries. Wooden has been named to Ebony Magazine's Power 100 list and is a four-time member of the Los Angeles Business Journal's LA 500. He has served on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as on the U.S. Travel Association's executive committee. He also sits on the organizing, executive and conflicts committees for the L.A. 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Adam Burke, currently the COO for Los Angeles Tourism, will become interim CEO upon Wooden's departure. Burke, a 30-year-veteran of the travel and tourism industry, was formerly senior vice president of customer loyalty for Hilton Worldwide and managing director of Hilton Honors. He currently oversees L.A. Tourism's finance, technology, customer-relations management and human resources functions, in addition to the organization's membership, dineL.A. and visitor information center operations.