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New leadership for county tourism

Dylan Deane-Boye settles into new role

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism’s new president and CEO, Dylan Deane-Boyle, is settling into his new role, which he started on Jan.17. Dylan replaced Sandy Ward, who retired at the end of 2022.

As past executive director of the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau in Whitefish, Montana, near Glacier National Park, Deane-Boyle’s focus was to raise awareness of the outstanding recreational and cultural experiences the area had to offer to drive tourism-related business during the non-peak season.

After a nationwide search using an executive recruitment firm, the board of directors of BWCT hired Deane-Boyle to build an effective destination marketing strategy with a focus on sustainability for Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Deane-Boyle holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and master’s degree in parks, tourism and recreation from the University of Montana.

We talked to Dylan Deane-Boyle to find out more about him and his plans to increase Bellingham tourism in a highly competitive post-pandemic market.

Business Pulse: What exactly is your role as president and CEO?
Deane-Boyle: My role is to lead our nonprofit economic development organization with the purpose of improving the local economy by marketing Bellingham and Whatcom County as a premier, year-round, visitor, sports, outdoor recreation, arts, cultural and meeting destination. I also lead our efforts to support and partner with travel, tourism and hospitality businesses and nonprofits in Whatcom County.

BP: How has the role been so far since you started in January 2023?
D-B: So far, my role has been to meet people and listen. We are fortunate to have an incredibly dynamic business community in Whatcom County. I learn something new every day from these conversations, which is exciting.

BP: How did Sandy Ward, whom you replaced, prepare you for this role?
D-B: In my opinion, the amount of incredible work Sandy did for tourism cannot truly be measured. Sandy worked in the Washington state tourism industry for more than 30 years and was inducted into the Washington Tourism Hall of Leadership in 2022. Sandy’s influence and positive leadership will be felt for years to come, and I have been fortunate enough to gather insight from her over the past few months. I am honored to continue the legacy of leading this organization.

BP: Can you give us any details on your future goals/plans for Bellingham tourism?
D-B: My goal is to build upon the strong foundation Sandy created and make sure we stick to our core mission and vision while also looking to the future and coming up with creative and innovative ways to address our new normal as we transition out of the pandemic.

BP: What challenges do you face?
D-B: The ultimate challenge is helping our local businesses rebound from the pandemic. We are currently in a highly competitive market for attracting visitors, as post-pandemic demand for travel remains high. Both domestic and international destinations are competing to fulfill pent-up travel demand during a time of economic uncertainty.

BP: You have been recognized as a Top 20 under 40 young professional. What does that mean?
D-B: In the summer of 2022, I was recognized as one of the top young business leaders in the Flathead Valley by the Daily Inter Lake for my work in the positive development of the tourism industry in Whitefish, Montana.

BP: Aside from recognition in the Daily Inter Lake, have you won any other professional awards?
D-B: While I served as the board chair of Glacier AERO (Airline Enhancement and Retention Outreach), we were awarded the 2018 Business of the Year Award by the Flathead Beacon alongside Glacier Park International Airport for our work on the expansion of commercial flight service.

BP: What boards/organizations/committees do you currently sit on?
D-B: Through my role, I serve on a number of boards and committees in various capacities. This includes the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bellingham Tourism Commission, Whatcom County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, and the Bellingham International Airport Advisory Committee, to name a few.

BP: What has been the best thing you’ve discovered about Bellingham?
D-B: Introducing my year-and-a-half-old to nature through outdoor recreation has been fantastic. The best thing I’ve discovered about Bellingham is how genuinely warm and welcoming this town is. I really cherish that, and it’s been great to experience being new to town.

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