eXplore Lawrence has a new executive director

eXplore Lawrence News Release

Contact: Toni Dixon, (785) 856-5284
Marketing & Communications, eXplore Lawrence

eXplore Lawrence has a new executive director

Lawrence, KS: eXplore Lawrence, the convention and visitors bureau, is pleased to have Michael Davidson as its new executive director. Davidson, of Oceanside, New York, has served as executive director of Greater Newark (New Jersey) Convention & Visitors Bureau and president of Tourism Walla Walla, Washington, as well as holding leadership positions with Glen Cove (New York) Chamber of Commerce and Long Island (New York) Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I am honored by the opportunity to serve as executive director for eXplore Lawrence,” Davidson said. “I look forward to working with the board of directors, staff, and the community to grow tourism in Lawrence. This is an exciting time for the tourism industry and we intend to use best practices in destination marketing and management to develop short and long term goals to assure that the local tourism industry reaches its full potential.”

Nancy Longhurst, chair of the Board of Directors of eXplore Lawrence, said, “I am thrilled to announce the hiring of Michael Davidson. His career has included serving as the president and CEO of Tourism Walla Walla, Washington from 2005 to 2011. There he led a campaign which resulted in that city being named the 2011 ‘Friendliest Small Town in America’ by USA Today and Rand McNally. During his time as executive director of the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau in New Jersey they increased their budget funding by $1.8 million. We look forward to working with Michael, as we know he brings enthusiasm and ideas to continue enhancing tourism for Lawrence.”

eXplore Lawrence, which changed its name from Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau last April, works to bring leisure travelers, visitors, conferences and events to Lawrence. eXplore Lawrence is a non-profit organization funded through a portion of the Transient Guest Taxes (TGT) collected by hotels and motels when guests stay overnight. In 2015, the transient guest tax collected in Lawrence was $1.65 million. Transient guest taxes have increased in recent years, partially due to the efforts of eXplore Lawrence, which hosts events such as the Tour of Lawrence and the Downtown Men’s Olympic Shot Put. The convention and visitors bureau collaborates with numerous community organizations to promote and support events including the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, Free State Festival, Busker Festival and other community events that make Lawrence an attractive destination.

In 2015, the estimated total direct spending by visitors to Lawrence was $99,615,000 as out-of-town visitors spent money on food, gas, entertainment and shopping, in addition to hotel rooms. eXplore Lawrence recently announced its successful effort to bring the 2017 USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships to Lawrence, which will result in more than 9,500 athletes and 33,000 family members, coaches and spectators coming to Lawrence and the surrounding area for a week in July. This event could have an estimated impact of $17 to $22 million dollars for northeast Kansas.

“This past year has been a period of realignment and reorganization for eXplore Lawrence,” said Megan Gilliland, City of Lawrence communications manager and interim director of eXplore Lawrence. “We’ve worked diligently over the past year to lay the foundation for the convention and visitors bureau to be successful in the future as it pursues new business and tourism opportunities. I am very proud of the staff and their work through the transition and I look forward to working with Michael and the rest of the board as we move forward.” 

Davidson began his new position at eXplore Lawrence on April 1, working with the board of directors and staff of eXplore Lawrence. eXplore Lawrence has a staff of five full-time and one part-time employees. For more information on eXplore Lawrence, go to eXplorelawrence.com.

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