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Industry Briefs

Since taking the helm in 2013, Ernest Wooden has shifted the organization’s sales and marketing efforts to focus on economic prosperity and job creation through tourism. Under his leadership, tourism has become a powerful force in L.A.’s economy, growing into a $37 billion industry while supporting 534,000 jobs countywide – the highest total on record. In establishing a goal of welcoming 50 million visitors by 2020 (which L.A.reached two years early), Wooden galvanized city leaders and the entire hospitality community to elevate the ambitious milestone into a civic rallying cry.

Wooden has strengthened Los Angeles Tourism’s international footprint – particularly in China – where he has strategically driven expansion, establishing full-time offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu (following Beijing). As the only U.S. municipal marketing organization with offices in China, L.A. has soared to rank as the number one U.S. city for Chinese travelers. An ambassador for promoting travel as a vehicle for cultural exchange through people-to-people connection, he led the national charge in 2017 to deliver a message of welcome to foreign travelers by launching ‘Everyone is Welcome;’ a pioneering initiative that garnered acclaim industrywide.

“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. I applaud the tremendous work he has accomplished during his tenure, for which we are grateful,” stated Alan Rothenberg, Board Chairman for Los Angeles Tourism.

Wooden began his lifelong hospitality career as a bellman, rising through the ranks to leadership positions with Omni, Sheraton and Hilton. At Hilton, Wooden served as EVP of Global Brands, overseeing all worldwide branding initiatives for 3,000 properties in 80 countries. In 2015, Wooden was named to the prestigious EBONY® Magazine’s Power 100 list, which salutes the remarkable achievements of the most influential African-Americans in the United States. He has also been a four-time honoree on Los Angeles Business Journal’s LA 500, a list of the 500 most influential people in business. Wooden has been a vocal industry advocate, serving on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Travel’s Executive Committee, among others. He is also dedicated to civic and community affairs, sitting on the Organizing Committee, Executive Committee and Conflicts Committee for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Adam Burke, who currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Los Angeles Tourism, will step into the interim CEO role after Wooden’s departure. Burke is currently responsible for overseeing the organization’s Finance, Technology, CRM and Human Resources functions, as well as Los Angeles Tourism’s Membership and dineL.A. programs, and Visitor Information Center operations. A senior travel and tourism executive with more than 30 years experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, Burke previously served as Senior Vice President of Customer Loyalty for Hilton Worldwide and Managing Director of Hilton Honors, with global management responsibility for the award-winning guest loyalty program. At Hilton, he also oversaw a network of more than 90 strategic partnerships in the travel, financial services and retail sectors. During his 17 years with the company, he held management positions in a variety of functional areas including strategic planning, CRM, information technology, international marketing, leisure & multi-brand marketing, customer acquisition and business/partnership development.

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