The new head of Lexington's tourism efforts will be Jim Browder, a hotel marketing executive from South Carolina.
Browder will replace David Lord as president of the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Lord retired at the end of March after more than 17 years in the post.
Browder, a 1981 graduate of Radford University in Virginia, is now vice president of sales and marketing at JHM Hotels, which has 40 properties across Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The company also owns a five-star luxury hotel in Surat, India.
According to Bob Hewett, chairman of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Tourist and Convention Commission, Browder was the unanimous choice. Browder has wide experience in the hospitality industry with groups of all sizes.
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A Virginia native, Browder said the Bluegrass region has long appealed to him, particularly with the diversity of interests from horses to bourbon to basketball. With the meetings industry beginning to bounce back, he said, Lexington might look at ways to draw in that business.
Browder worked his way through college in restaurants and has spent his career in hospitality, ranging from the Grosvenor Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida to the Wild Dunes and Virginia Crossings golf resorts, and the boutique Latham Hotel in downtown Washington.
"Jim brings more than 25 years of hospitality industry experience to the position," Hewett said in a news release, "and the commission believes he will provide tremendous leadership to the bureau in the coming years. Through his roles at various hotels and hotel ownership groups, Jim has a proven record of success in sales, marketing and management, and the commission looks forward to working with him."
No start date was announced Monday, but Browder and his wife, Becky, expect to move to Lexington during the summer.
"I am truly honored and excited to have been selected to lead the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau's efforts and play an important role in bringing new convention and tourism opportunities to the Bluegrass region," Browder said. "I look forward to working with an exceptional bureau team to grow our visitor base and enhance economic growth in the market."