Lead Stories

Leadership Transition

Long-time U.S. Travel Association CEO Dow Poised To Pass The Baton To Freeman

By Dennis Nessler | June 24, 2022

Following a 17-year tenure as leader of the organization he helped create, U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow will soon be passing the baton to Geoff Freeman, who will serve as president/CEO, beginning September 1.

Freeman rejoins the U.S. Travel Association after nearly a decade of association leadership—first as president/CEO of the American Gaming Association and as the current president/CEO of the Consumer Brands Association.

In his previous leadership role at U.S. Travel, his strategic work led to the industry’s signature bipartisan legislative victory establishing the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and creating Brand USA, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Other accomplishments included leading the industry effort behind the creation of TSA PreCheck and establishing the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.

As CEO of the American Gaming Association from 2013 to 2018, he led an industrywide campaign to legalize sports betting and expanded the organization’s membership to include tribal gaming entities. As CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, he galvanized industry support behind a transformation strategy: defining a new brand identity, growing membership, strengthening the organization’s leadership team and re-establishing the association as a Washington, DC, powerhouse.

The nationwide search to identify the association’s next president/CEO was guided by a nine-member search committee representative of core segments of the travel industry, led by Christine Duffy—national chair, U.S. Travel Association and president, Carnival Cruise Line—and supported by Heidrick & Struggles.

“I am eager to get to work on behalf of this incredible industry, which has long held a special place for me,” said Freeman in a statement. “There are few industries more essential to the nation’s economy, more connected to consumers and more critical to bringing Americans together than the travel industry. I believe U.S. Travel’s talented team can continue to raise the bar, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get started.

“I’m proud and honored to succeed Roger Dow, who has been a profound leader and important mentor to me,” he added. “I give Roger my sincere thanks for all he has done for me and for the travel industry.”

Most recently, Dow and the U.S. Travel Association teamed with Airlines for America in a meeting at the White House where they reiterated the need for the Biden administration to end the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound vaccinated air travelers.

Roger Dow stated in March at the Hunter Hotels Conference those requirements “are inhibiting travel like crazy.” He added the AH&LA and USTA had sent a letter to key policymakers urging them to get rid of the testing.

In regards to the most recent White House meeting, Dow further noted in a statement. “It is long past time for the Biden administration to remove the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers to the U.S. While nearly all other U.S. industries are operating without restrictions, the travel industry remains disproportionately harmed by this requirement, even though the science no longer supports.

“Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars. Further, since the federal government does not require negative tests for entry at our land-border ports of entry with Canada and Mexico, it no longer makes sense to keep the requirement in place for vaccinated international air travelers to the U.S. While inflation continues to soar, the administration can take an immediate step in jolting America’s recovery efforts by repealing this outdated requirement.

“The time is now for the Biden administration to eliminate the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated travelers and fully reopen our borders,” he stated.

Dennis Nessler

Dennis Nessler is Editor-in-Chief of Hotel Interactive, parent company of Hotel Community Forum. Nessler brings more than 28 years of editorial experience to his position, including some 17 years in the hospitality industry. As part of his duties, Nessler not only covers the industry editorially but moderates various high-level panel sessions at hospitality events and frequently conducts one-on-one interviews with C-level executives.

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