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New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau Names 2017 Board of Directors
Michael O. Smith, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, serves as Chairman

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) has inducted key leaders in the city's tourism industry to serve on its 2017 Board of Directors. This esteemed group of business leaders will provide the strategic direction for New Orleans' $7 billion tourism industry and advances the interests of the more than 1,100 members of the NOCVB. Serving as chairman of the board is Michael O. Smith, the general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

Smith began his career as a restaurant attendant at a North Carolina Hyatt hotel while studying Business Administration at Winston-Salem University. Upon graduating in 1979, Smith joined Hyatt's Corporate Training Program at Hyatt Regency Washington. Since then, Smith has worked at ten Hyatt properties throughout the country. While his success with Hyatt has led him to become an expert in the hospitality and tourism industries, Smith has utilized his platform to excel towards a higher purpose as an innovative business leader and revered philanthropist in New Orleans. He has received widespread recognition for his efforts in safely evacuating nearly 4,000 guests and staff during Hurricane Katrina, as well as supporting government officials in transporting thousands of residents from the Superdome through the hotel to buses departing the city during Hurricane Katrina. On the fifth anniversary of the disaster, Smith was honored as an "Unsung Hero" in a proclamation by the City of New Orleans. He returned to New Orleans in 2007 to spearhead the $285 million redevelopment of Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Through his leadership, vision and passion, the property reopened in 2011 as the city's leading hotel destination, with Smith once again serving as general manager.

"With this board under Michael Smith's leadership, we are well poised to continue increasing visitation and visitor spending in New Orleans. The year 2017 will mark historic air connectivity from Europe to New Orleans via British Airways and Condor. We will also begin promoting travel to New Orleans from China, the world's fastest growing international market. These efforts and more, will pave the way to an amazing tricentennial year in 2018," said Stephen Perry, President & CEO, New Orleans CVB.

The 2017 Board of Directors Executive Committee:
• Michael O. Smith, Hyatt Regency New Orleans (Chairman of the Board)
• Greg Rusovich, Transoceanic Trading & Development (Chair-Elect)
• Jim Cook, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel (Past Chair)
• Steve Pettus, Dickie Brennan & Company (Treasurer)
• Darryl Berger, The Berger Company (Secretary)
• Tod Chambers, The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel (Assistant Secretary)
• Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute
• Doug Thornton, LSED/SMG Superdome

At Large:
• Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association
• Melvin Rodrigue, Galatoire's
• Mickal Adler, Coleman E. Adler & Sons
• Don Allee, Port of New Orleans
• Bonnie Boyd, BBC Destination Management
• Robert Bray, New Orleans Marriott Hotel
• Steve Caputo, Hotel Monteleone
• Katy Casbarian, Arnaud's Restaurant
• Kathie Jacobs, Highpointe Hotel Corporation
• Diane Lyons, Accent on Arrangements*
• Octavio Mantilla, John Besh Restaurant Group
• Quentin Messer, New Orleans Business Alliance*
• Amy Reimer, International House Hotel*
• Paul Scott, New Orleans Hilton Riverside
• Susan Taylor, New Orleans Museum of Art
• David Teich, Windsor Court Hotel
• David Villarrubia, Degas House
• Camille Whitworth, Media by Design *
*Newly appointed for 2017

Headshots available for all board members upon request.

In addition to being named a "World's Best City" by Travel + Leisure in 2016, New Orleans continues to earn accolades, such as "Number 1 City for Food in the U.S." and "Number 2 Best City for Culture in the U.S." by Travel + Leisure, one of the "7 Best Family Getaways in America" by TripAdvisor, and one of the "Friendliest Cities in the U.S." by Condé Nast Traveler. New Orleans is consistently recognized on these prestigious lists because of our culture and the authentic experiences provided to those who live here and visit, but also due to the effort of the tourism industry to sell, market, and promote the city. The Nominating Committee received nominations from the CVB members and selected board candidates based on their industry knowledge, experience and diversity. The slate was elected by the CVB's membership at the Annual Business Meeting held on December 15, 2016.

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago and four foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrates its 57th anniversary in 2017. For more information, please visit;;