After a nationwide search, Visit Tucson has announced that Felipe Garcia, current interim president and CEO of Visit Tucson, has been chosen to lead the region’s destination marketing organization into its next chapter of driving tourism revenue for this community, effective immediately.
Garcia is replacing Brent DeRaad, who had been president and CEO since 2012. DeRaad resigned in October to head the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau in Texas.
“It was abundantly clear that Felipe has both the skills and experience for this new challenge,” said John Denker, Visit Tucson’s board chair. “Beyond just already knowing the business and staff of Visit Tucson, his passion for his work and the future of this community shine through in all that he does.”
“I am honored to continue to serve this community in this new role,” said Garcia. “Visit Tucson is a leader in both this industry and in driving economic impact for the people of metro Tucson. Along with Visit Tucson’s incredible team, I’m looking forward to finding new opportunities and continuing to be a catalyst towards attracting attention for this region.”
Garcia has led Visit Tucson’s Vamos a Tucson Mexico marketing efforts throughout his tenure, along with partnering with area economic development and community organizations. Recently, he was elected VP of the Delice Network. The Delice Network includes some of the world’s top cities, including Lyon, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hong Kong; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; that collaborate on developing programs and strategies to use food and gastronomy as a tourism and economic development platform.
His role with Delice fits well with Garcia’s leveraging of Tucson’s designation as the U.S.’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Garcia has worked closely with community leaders for the past six years to maximize the potential of this designation to Tucson. Attracting the Food Network to Tucson for multiple shows and bringing in Pati Jinich to film two episodes of her award-winning cooking show “Pati’s Mexican Table,” which airs on PBS in the U.S. and Amazon Prime worldwide, are examples of his accomplishments.
Prior to his work at Visit Tucson, Garcia worked for the City of Tucson as an economic development specialist focused on trade opportunities between Mexico and Southern Arizona. He is an attorney by trade and started his career working on international trade and investment throughout Latin America.