Indianapolis, IN – Donald Welsh was named president and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA), effective August 1, after more than three years in the same job with the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau. Welsh will take over for Bob Bedell, who announced last December that he would retire July 31 after six years on the job.
Welsh will arrive at a busy time for the Indianapolis convention and trade show industry. Construction will be beginning on the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and a 1,600-room hotel complex that will cater to the convention market. The new Lucas Oil Stadium, which will be he home to the Indianapolis Colts and also offer 176,000 square feet of exhibit space adjacent to the convention center, has its grand opening on August 16.
“Don is one of the most extraordinary leaders of the convention, tourism and hospitality industry in all of North America,” said Jim Morris, chairman of the ICVA search committee. “When he came here to visit, he displayed a genuine passion for our community and the importance of this activity for the economies of Indianapolis and Central Indiana.”
Welsh was credited with the successful re-branding of the Seattle CVB in 2006 and contributing to a glowing 75% hotel occupancy rate in the downtown core last year. He joined the Seattle CVB in 2003 as vice president of sales and marketing and was named president and CEO in 2005. Prior to his time in Seattle, Welsh held a number of executive positions in the hotel industry and with the meeting-planning firm Helms Briscoe.
A spokesman for the Seattle CVB said its board was forming a search committee to find a replacement for Welsh.