Visit Tri-Cities has hired Kevin Lewis, a tourism and marketing executive from St. George, Utah, to succeed Michael Novakovich as its president and CEO.
Novakovich left in July to lead Columbia Industries, a Kennewick nonprofit serving people with disabilities and other barriers to success.
Lewis joins the region’s tourism bureau from the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office in St. George, Utah, where he has been director of tourism since 2018. He is a Salt Lake City native who studied broadcast journalism and English at Southern Utah University, graduating in 1987.
His first day with Visit Tri-Cities will be Nov. 28.
The Visit Tri-Cities board employed Winner Partners to conduct a nationwide search for its next leader.
“With his proven leadership, experience and dedication to the growth and success of our members, partners, and the destination, (Lewis) will be a remarkable asset to our community,” said Corey Pearson, chairperson of the board.
At the Zion bureau, Lewis was credited with being a key player in attracting iconic events, including multiple editions of the Ironman Triathlon, including the 2021 and 2022 70.3 Ironman World Championships.
He pledged to support the growth of the Tri-Cities tourism industry.
“I’m convinced that we are always better when we are growing,” he said in a press release announcing his selection. “I can’t wait to combine our complementary strengths and use our talents to collectively celebrate what is right in Tri-Cities.”
Tourism is an important piece of the Tri-Cities economy.
Visit Tri-Cities calculates visitors spent $490 million in 2021, up 42% from 2020 but still well short of the 2019 pre-pandemic record. In 2020, visitor spending fell by 30% as Covid-19 shutdowns severely curtailed travel, dining and other recreational activities.
It was on the rebound in 2021 and by mid-2022 was tracking to return to its pre-Covid levels. Tourism supported 4,739 local jobs in 2021 and generated $51.2 million in local and state sales taxes.
Visit Tri-Cities holds its annual meeting from noon-1:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at bit.ly/VTCAnnualLuncheon.