Kurt Burkhart retired in May 2018 as the Executive Director for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau in Charlottesville, Virginia, a position he held since January 2009. He is now Managing Director & Founder of Destination Strategies Group, LLC, a Charlottesville-based consultancy. For more than nine years, and together with his "dream team," they amassed millions of dollars of direct, attributable earned media for the greater Charlottesville area, and accumulated numerous accolades for their community, including a Platinum HSMAI Adrian Award in 2013 for social media marketing. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are plenty, but a Platinum?
Prior to arriving in Central Virginia, Kurt served as Executive Director for the Carlsbad Convention & Visitors Bureau, a coastal city 30-miles north of San Diego where he led that city’s promotional efforts to build visitation from 2000-2008. It was in Carlsbad where he brought from conception-to-completion San Diego County’s first tourism business improvement district for bureau funding, becoming the 13th TBID in a state that now totals more than 100.
His career as a destination marketing professional began in Flagstaff, Arizona, where, as Director of the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau, he had the privilege of marketing his community as a “destination” rather than a gateway city to the Grand Canyon. Kurt collaborated with the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache sovereign nations through the Northern Arizona Marketing Group, and served on the board of the Arizona Tourism Alliance.
From 1995-98, Kurt provided tourism policy guidance and international trade expertise to the governor of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as the chief executive’s Special Assistant for Tourism and Trade. He traveled extensively throughout Asia, coordinating trade missions to China, Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His work concluded in 1998 with the successful completion of a $140 million gaming resort on the commonwealth island of Tinian, made possible through foreign investment.
It was during the late 90s when he catapulted the Mariana Islands onto the global arena with the successful launch of, "The Sights and Sounds of the Mariana Islands," a year-long, three-Continent advertising blitz featured on CNN International. In the early 90s, Kurt directed communications for the governor and established the Northern Mariana Islands Film Office, serving as its first film commissioner. In 1995, he assisted CBS Anchor Dan Rather and retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf during the filming of, "War in the Pacific," a CBS television special which chronicled the Battle of Saipan in 1944, a crucial turning point in the war against Japan.
Kurt and his wife were also owner-operators of Adventure Dives & Tours, Saipan, a receptive tour operator and dive equipment wholesaler in the Northern Mariana Islands. They thrilled lots of Japanese divers who visited to dive the world-famous Grotto and many yet-to-be discovered awesome dive sites on the island of Saipan.
Kurt has been a practitioner of Shotokan karate for nearly 2 decades, has 3 marathons to his credit, logged over 500 dives as a PADI professional certified Divemaster and still enjoys traveling to the Grand Canyon every several years to hike. He especially enjoys training his daughter who is working toward her 4th Dan Master Instructor in Tae Kwon Do.
Kurt served on the boards of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, and the Virginia Association of Destination Marketing Organizations. He earned and received the recognition by Destination Marketing Association International in 2015 as a Certified Destination Management Executive and served on the Professional Development Committee for Destinations International.
Kurt promises that when you engage with Destination Strategies Group, LLC, our adventure together will be just as memorable and summed up in just one word - Fun!
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