David Whitaker decamps to Brand USA

David Whitaker, left, at the press conference announcing the topping off of Delta Toronto in late 2013.

David Whitaker, left, at the press conference announcing the topping off of Delta Toronto in late 2013.

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TORONTO — Toronto tourism will lose an aggressive advocate as industry veteran David Whitaker has announced he is going to become chief marketing officer for Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the U.S. Whitaker will join Brand USA on May 11, following eight years as president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America.

After taking the helm of Tourism Toronto to promote Canada’s largest city in April 2007, Whitaker embarked on an aggressive strategy to reinvigorate the greater metropolitan area as an exciting leisure and business travel destination. He revamped its marketing and advertising and by focused on attracting high-value travellers (who stay longer and spend more) primarily from major U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Japan, and Brazil.

The strategy began paying off inside of three years, and by 2014 Tourism Toronto experienced its fourth consecutive year of growth in visitors from the United States and the highest number of overseas visitors in its history. In 2014, visitation reached a record 14.3 million overnight visitors who spent $6.9 billion.