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Visit San Antonio has named as its new president and CEO Marc Anderson, currently the chief operating officer at a similar tourism organization in Chicago.

Anderson takes over San Antonio’s tourism office June 1 as it attempts to help the hotel sector rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and revitalize the city’s convention and meetings business.

More than 100 candidates applied for the job, said Jeffrey Arndt, chairman of Visit San Antonio’s board and co-chair of the selection committee. The other co-chair was Frank Miceli, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Anderson succeeds Casandra Matej, who departed in December to take a similar position in Orlando.

The committee in charge of hiring was impressed by Anderson’s track record of capturing large conventions for Chicago, Arndt said. Arndt highlighted a particular episode in which Anderson convinced the James Beard Foundation, an organization for chefs and restaurants, to move its annual awards gala from New York City to Chicago.

“It was a major coup for Chicago,” Arndt said, adding that the committee believed it boded well for San Antonio, one of two cities in the country designated as a “Creative City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO, the cultural wing of the United Nations.

Arndt said that Anderson’s capture of the James Beard Foundation event illustrated he was “not afraid of bold ideas.”

In a prepared statement Monday, Anderson called San Antonio a “vibrant community that is poised not only for an incredible recovery, but extensive growth in the coming years.” He said the city’s “pro-tourism and pro-business stance” was a welcome opportunity. Through his office in Chicago, Anderson declined a request for further comment.

Anderson’s annual salary will be $350,000, a spokesman for Visit San Antonio said.

Visit San Antonio markets San Antonio as a destination for visitors and conventions. It often partners with public entities such as the City of San Antonio, as well as private entities, such as the NCAA in the lead-up to the women’s basketball championship recently hosted in the city. Previously it operated as a City entity, but became a nonprofit in 2017. It still receives the bulk of its funding from the City.

Anderson has nearly three decades of experience in the hospitality industry, according to a news release.

He sits on the board of directors for the United States Travel Association (USTA), the executive committee for the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, and is a member on Destinations International’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

For the last six years, he has been the chief operating officer at Choose Chicago, a marketing entity similar to Visit San Antonio. He previously served as a regional marketing director in the Midwest and Canada for the Peninsula Hotels, a Hong Kong-based chain of luxury hotels.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.