San Francisco – John Marks, 64, San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO, announced on December 12th that he will retire effective June 30th. The 37-year hospitality veteran spent the past 18 years at the San Francisco CVB.
During his tenure, Marks helped to build the CVB into an organization with 1,700 active members. He was at the helm through the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the aftermath of 9/11 and through the expansion of the Moscone Center, completed in 2003.
Last year, the San Francisco CVB attracted widespread attention with its “Not in L.A.” campaign, highlighting San Francisco attractions not found in its sister city to the south.
After struggling with a technology downturn and the after-effects of 9/11, the city’s visitor numbers are again on the rise. San Francisco will end 2005 with about 16 million visitors and $6 billion in visitor spending. The CVB this year also booked more than 2 million group room nights for future years.
Marks is a prominent voice for unity and partnerships within the industry. He served as Chairman of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus in 1988-89 (now Destination Marketing Association International); was Vice-Chairman of the American Society of Association Executives in 1996-97; and served on the Board of the Professional Convention Management Association Foundation in 1992-93. He is a Past National Chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America (2003) and its Foundation (1995-1997). He was a founding member of the California Tourism Commission (1998-2003), and is Past President of the California Travel Industry Association (1999-2000).
From 1982 until his appointment to the San Francisco Bureau, Marks was president and CEO of the Phoenix & Valley of the Sun Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to 1982, he was chief executive of the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and on the staff of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Marks, who will turn 65 in April, said in a letter to members that he has no intention of remaining idle. “I plan to put my experience and contacts to good use, just not at a 60-hour-a-week pace,” he said.
Charles Ahlers, President of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau and Marks’ predecessor in San Francisco, said Marks will be sorely missed.
“John is a terrific professional and I have the utmost respect for him,” he said. “He’ll be especially missed by those on the West Coast who looked to him as a peer and mentor in the industry. San Francisco will be hard-pressed to find someone who can advance the industry the way he has.”