Change at the Top of L.A. Tourism Group

Ernest Wooden will take over the city's primary tourism group.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — There’s a change in Los Angeles’ tourism industry, and it has nothing to do with seeing the beach or visiting Hollywood.

Tom Mullen, chairman of the board of the Downtown-based Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, announced today that Ernest (Ernie) Wooden is replacing Mark Liberman as president and CEO of the private, nonprofit business association that pushes the city as a tourism destination. Liberman had announced his retirement last May.

Wooden, who will take over this month, is a hospitality industry veteran currently serving as CEO of Creative Consulting, which works with hotels on brand selection and other matters. Wooden, a Brooklyn, NY native who has lived in the L.A. area since 1999, spent more than a decade in the global brand management and operations divisions of Hilton Hotels.

According to the tourism board, Los Angeles saw a record 40.4 million domestic and international visitors in 2012. The industry has an estimated $15 billion annual economic impact, according to the board.

Liberman took over in 2003. Mullen credited him for leading the group at a time of occasional turmoil.

“Mark successfully steered our industry through and out of the recession to enjoy record highs including record-breaking hotel occupancy this year,” he said in a prepared statement.

Copyright 2013 Los Angeles Downtown News.