Visit Baltimore picks Ala. tourism officer to be CEO
An Alabama tourism officer who oversaw the launch of a branding campaign for one of that state’s port cities has been named the next leader of Baltimore’s tourism and convention bureau.
Al Hutchinson, 57, is expected to start as president and CEO of Visit Baltimore on Nov. 14, Baltimore’s Convention and Tourism board of directors said Monday. He succeeds Tom Noonan, who left Visit Baltimore in May for a position in Austin, Texas.
A Virginia native, Hutchinson graduated from the University of Alabama and was most recently the president and CEO of Visit Mobile. Prior to Mobile, he worked at the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau for more than 11 years. He also has held positions in Pittsburgh and Charlotte.
Hutchinson said he was drawn to the position because of Baltimore’s reputation in the industry. He said he expects to start his new role by meeting with stakeholders.
“I want to come there with an open ear, not with an arrogance that I have all the answers,” he said. “I want to listen to the community and find out where our gaps are.”
Top priorities for the board include building Baltimore’s brand and getting the city and state to move forward on plans for a bigger convention center, said board chair John Frisch.
The Maryland Stadium Authority said in August it would commission a new study looking at ways to renovate the existing center. The proposal has been discussed for years but lacked funding for follow-through and consensus about what an expansion should include.
Hutchinson was selected after a national search and review of more than two dozen applications, including extensive interviews with six candidates, Frisch said. Hutchinson met with outgoing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and state Sen. Catherine Pugh, the Democratic nominee for mayor, as part of the interview process.