SEATTLE – Today marked the last day of hospitality veteran Tom Norwalk’s 15-year tenure with Visit Seattle. Industry colleagues and friends celebrated Norwalk’s esteemed accomplishments at Visit Seattle’s Annual Outlook Meeting at the Westin Seattle (the exact location he began his hospitality career 45-years prior). Under Norwalk’s leadership, Seattle set all-time records for tourism visitation and spending.
Norwalk closed his chapter with Visit Seattle with the unanimous passage of an increase to the Seattle Tourism Improvement Area (STIA) assessment, which was signed by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell at today’s meeting. The increased assessment – a priority for Norwalk – will allow Visit Seattle to competitively promote leisure travel, particularly during this critical recovery phase. Norwalk oversaw the creation of the STIA in 2011.
“It’s ceremonious that Tom ended his tenure with the passing of the STIA assessment, ensuring our destination’s future success” said Kevin Clark, Chair of the Visit Seattle Board of Directors and CEO at Argosy Cruises. “But for those who have the privilege to work with Tom, it’s not a surprise. Tom has committed his career to bettering our city. His bright leadership, strategic vision and unmatched service has cemented Seattle’s place as a leading global destination. And Tom will be remembered as an all-time great Seattleite.”
Alongside his many accomplishments – changing Seattle’s perception to a year-round tourism destination, growing its international presence, overseeing Seattle’s destination rebrand and Visit Seattle’s corporate identity; and most recently, leading pandemic recovery efforts – Norwalk is also regarded for the comradery he fostered within the Visit Seattle organization and the greater tourism industry.
“You expect people in the hospitality industry to be nice, but this wasn’t just part of the job for Tom – it’s who Tom is,” said Jon Scholes, DSA, President and CEO. “And it doesn’t matter what room Tom shows up in – virtual, in person — he always shows up with a smile on his face and a grace for others.”
“During his tenure, he has always supported the Seattle Hotel Association and its members. He has made sure that Visit Seattle’s marketing efforts were always geared toward all hotel members large and small,” said Bill Weise, General Manager, Silver Cloud Hotel – Seattle Stadium and President of the Seattle Hotel Association. “He understood that the smaller hotels, the non-franchised hotels had different needs and wants than the larger, big box franchised hotels and he made it fair to everyone concerned.”
“Tom Norwalk has been a friend of mine and this city for decades. Bless you my friend for all that you have given us-we are beneficiaries of your service,” said Bernie Griffin, Managing Director, The 5th Avenue Theatre.
“This has been a dream come true for me and my family. I have always been honored to promote and represent my hometown around the world. Seattle’s future is so bright – and industry recovery so close,” Visit Seattle President and CEO Tom Norwalk said. “I will be watching from the sidelines – cheering like crazy for the Emerald City.”
A Seattle native, Norwalk has devoted 40 years to the West Coast hospitality industry. Prior to his 15 years with Visit Seattle (where he served as Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing prior to his President & CEO promotion in 2008), he held marketing and leadership positions with Seattle Hospitality Group, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and The Golf Club at Newcastle. Norwalk began his career in 1976 in the catering and banquets division for the Washington Plaza Hotel in Seattle, which later became the flagship property for Westin Hotels and Resorts.
Norwalk will enjoy spending his retirement with his family, including his wife Linda, his children and his grandchildren.
Visit Seattle and its Board of Directors are in the process of a nationwide search to identify Norwalk’s successor. An announcement is expected in the spring.
About Visit Seattle:
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501(c)(6) organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Visit visitseattle.org.
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