HIGH POINT — Visit High Point has added a slew of young professionals to its leadership ranks as the organization tries to help the tourism industry recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The board of directors last month installed five new members, four of whom are under the age of 40. It also elected new officers, including Jenni Lynch as chairwoman.
She said it’s a critical time for Visit High Point to focus on building its younger leadership.
“We didn’t have the magic number of 40 in mind, but it just so happens that four of the five do happen to be under 40, and we’re very pleased about that,” said Lynch, who previously served as vice chairwoman. “We were somewhat intentional in that regard — trying to recruit and involve more young people with strong skill sets that we need, that High Point needs.”
The new board members are Weldon Morris Hussey of Alderman Company, Patrick Walker of Courtyard by Marriott High Point, Derek Cress of JH Adams Inn Trademark Collection by Wyndham, Dave Nicoletta of Giannos Restaurant, and Jonathan Marquez of Northwood Animal Hospital.
All except for Nicoletta are under 40, according to Nancy Bowman, director of sales and marketing for Visit High Point.
Each replaced board members whose terms expired.
This is the first time the organization’s board has strategically recruited young professionals, President Melody Burnett said. She credited the High Point Young Professionals Network and Business High Point Chamber of Commerce with helping identify candidates.
“Each one of our new members brings a wealth of diverse skill sets and value to position High Point as a destination that visitors will enjoy and that locals will want to promote,” Burnett said.
The pandemic has taken a toll on the hospitality industry as hotel room bookings have plummeted. This has driven down hotel occupancy tax receipts, which are Visit High Point’s chief revenue source.
Lynch, a High Point attorney, said the new board members will help the organization continue to adapt to the economic fallout from the pandemic and react to the needs of the industry.
“Dave (Nicoletta) owns Giannos and has been a very powerful advocate for the restaurant industry, trying to help them identify resources,” she said. “Jonathan (Marquez) has a strong financial background. Of course, we want to be a more pet-friendly destination. He’s in the right business to help us with that focus. Pre-COVID, I think he did a lot of events for Northwood involving the community and people who have pets. So he’s even got event experience.”
She said she thinks that, as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed, consumer confidence will increase and pent-up demand will help the tourism industry recover.
“We are very optimistic. We’re very hopeful that we will begin to sense a recovery later in 2021,” Lynch said. “But I think realistically, we won’t feel close to a full recovery for probably two or three more years.”
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