CANTON, MA – Tourism Cares, the tourism industry’s premier charitable organization for preservation, conservation, restoration, and education in tourism, has announced that it will induct the late Robert E. Whitley, former President of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), into the Tourism Hall of Fame.
Whitley was a founding board member of Tourism Cares and its predecessor Travelers Conservation Foundation. The induction will take place during the opening luncheon of the USTOA Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 10.
“The Tourism Hall of Fame recognizes and honors individuals who, among other business accomplishments, have made significant personal contributions to travel and tourism through philanthropic, volunteer, and mentoring activities,” said Bruce Beckham, Executive Director, Tourism Cares. “Bob Whitley certainly embodied all these attributes.”
Whitley, who died suddenly on May 13, 2010 of complications following abdominal surgery, served as President of USTOA for 32 years. During that time he traveled the globe as a worldwide ambassador and advocate of the tour operator industry. “Bob’s engaging smile and personality, along with his expert knowledge of the tour industry, enabled him to engage and befriend everyone he met,” said Beckham.
Whitley began his travel and tourism career as the President of the Virginia Beach (VA) Convention & Visitors Bureau. He later became the CEO of the Office of Travel & Tourism for the states of Pennsylvania and Florida. For seven consecutive years, he was recognized by a leading trade magazine as one of the travel industry’s 25 most influential executives.
In 2005, Whitley was honored with the Travel Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award. On November 14, Whitley received, posthumously, the National Tour Association’s Pioneer Award at its convention in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Since the creation of the Tourism Hall of Fame in 1998, 19 men and women have been honored with induction. Upon his induction, Whitley will join the ranks of other recent honorees such as:
• Bill Marriott of Marriott International
• Bob Dickinson (retired) of Carnival Cruise Lines
• Arthur C. Tauck, Jr. of Tauck World Discovery
• Dan Sullivan of Collette Vacations
• John Stachnik of Mayflower Tours
• Gil Haroche of Liberty Travel
• Bill LaMacchia of The Mark Travel Service