Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization, the umbrella organization that represents both the leisure and MICE marketing efforts of the U.S. island, announced the appointment of two key leadership positions.

Alma Pedrosa, CPA, CDME, was hired as its chief financial officer, as of July 1, 2018, and Leah Chandler, CDME, was named chief marketing officer, effective in mid-May 2018. The two hires represent the first two leadership positions to be filled since Brad Dean was appointed CEO in March 2018.

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“There is nothing greater than the transformative power of travel and tourism to help Puerto Rico, its residents and businesses continue towards its already promising recovery,” Dean said.

“Leah and Alma will be instrumental in working with the Board of Directors and our stakeholders as we work to collectively ensure the DMO is a transformational structure positively impacting the Island’s economic growth through business and leisure tourism," he added in regard to the hiring announcement.

Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization is a $25 million entity created in March 2017 via legislation, and will become the island’s official off-island marketing organization effective July 1, 2018.

Pedrosa is currently acting president and CEO and director of finance and administration with Meet Puerto Rico, the private nonprofit organization that promotes the island as a meetings and conventions destination.

Pedrosa has worked in multinational and local firms such as Ernst & Young and RSM Associates in auditing and accounting, and acted as an independent consultant with clients such as the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

“Alma has relevant industry experience with a strong combination of knowledge of the local market, handling of destination marketing and managing financial structures,” Dean said. “These skills are critical as we embark on our mission to develop a DMO based on transparency and accountability.”

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Chandler, a 16-year tourism and travel industry veteran, was formerly CMO for the Branson CVB in Branson, Missouri, and has 10 years of agency experience representing the Missouri and Indiana state tourism accounts.

According to the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization, she generated a 79 percent increase in marketing reach, four years of record tax receipts and visitation, and a 6.3 percent return on investment increase for the overall marketing program while representing Branson.

“Leah is a skilled industry leader and will be instrumental in developing and leading the DMO’s effort to successfully engage with the community at large,” Dean said. “Her varied experience within the industry, leading integrated marketing initiatives in the tourism and travel sectors will add a valuable component to all the initiatives the DMO is pursuing to make Puerto Rico a premier destination."

Meetings Today's Lori Tenny is on the ground in Puerto Rico. Read more here.