Kurt Burkhart, Executive Director, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau

Kurt Burkhart, Executive Director, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau, City of Charlottesville

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Bethesda, Maryland, I lived in Washington, DC, California (2 locations), Texas, Florida (2 locations) and Virginia (5 locations) before graduating from high school in Fairfax County.  Having attended 5 elementary schools and 3 high schools, it is hard to define exactly where I was raised.  Those in military families understand!

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
When my predecessor said that he had accepted another position in Tennessee, he asked if I might be interested in applying for his job. What I was looking for in my next “assignment” was fully met by moving to this area – a healthful community, low tax base, great schools, a good environmental conscience, and the opportunity to continue building my career in destination marketing.

What neighborhood do you live in now?
We live just past Darden Towe Park in Albemarle County.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
My wife is from Japan; we have one daughter, together with our golden retriever and two cats.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I graduated from High Point University in 1974 with a double degree in History and Political Science and a minor in Theology.

What were you doing before you came to work for the city?
For eight years I was Executive Director of the Carlsbad Convention and Visitors Bureau, a coastal community 30 miles north of San Diego.

Your job title is What Resources Specialist – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
As the official destination marketing organization for our area, I manage a full-time staff of five, and six part time employees.  I’m involved with budgeting, marketing and communications, branding, public relations, and manage at least six contracts with outside vendors.  I am also actively involved with numerous community, regional and state organizations.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part of my job is the colleagues I have the privilege of working with, side-by-side, each and every day. These are amazing individuals who are extremely passionate about their work and extremely committed to what we do as an organization.  Perhaps the most difficult part of what I do is to find balance in all that I do.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that residents of communities that do not have or support tourism are likely to pay, on average, nearly one-thousand dollars more in taxes each year.  Funding for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau is provided directly from the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel bed tax) that’s charged to overnight guests at hotels, resorts, small inns and bed and breakfast establishments.  The CACVB receives 30% of the first 5% of the tax that’s charged, which means that at least 70% of taxes generated through the bed tax is retained for use by both the city and county.  The CACVB is a revenue generator both the city and county, and provides a demonstrated return on investment of 7:1.  The incremental value that we bring comes through our sales and marketing efforts that increase leisure and group travel business, which contributes directly to the bottom line of our local economy.   We also continue to provide visitors and locals with interesting, reliable and very relevant information through our website, www.visitcharlottesville.org , and social media avenues that include our Facebook page – Experience Charlottesville, Twitter feeds, and Pinterest.com/cvilleva

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?
The one project that continues to amaze me is the website we first developed three years ago – www.visitcharlottesville.org  – which is also supported by our mobile site and the top-performing Facebook page, Experience Charlottesville.  Quickly evolving technology is helping to shorten the time in which most Americans [and global citizen!] make travel decisions.  Being relevant and responsive is key to staying competitive.

What is a little-known fact about you?  What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I do a lot of walking.  I used to run, and actually have 3 marathons to my credit, but after two knee surgeries I transitioned to walking.  This September will mark 7 years of walking a mile or more without missing a single day.  I also hike the Grand Canyon nearly every year, a tradition started in 1999 when I lived in Northern Arizona and took my first hike of the Canyon.  My wife and I are divers, having met on a beach in the Northern Mariana Islands where she was an instructor from Tokyo and I, a Divemaster.   We would later own a dive business and dive either before or after work nearly every day.