Rick Antonson

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Author & Former CEO, Tourism Vancouver


Rick Antonson has 30 years as a leader in the Tourism Industry.

He served as board chair of the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) based in Washington, D.C., and as deputy chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) based in Bangkok, Thailand and as a Games Ambassador for the 2010 Olympic Winter & Paralympic Games held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. He was also President of Pacific Coast Public Television until the Spring of 2014.

These and many other senior volunteer roles anchored Rick’s full-time career as President & CEO of Tourism Vancouver, an international award winning, 1,000 member organisation widely recognised as a global leader in destination marketing, sales, management, and visitor experiences. Under his leadership, Tourism Vancouver has played a significant role in shaping Vancouver and B.C.’s future including the initiation of the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Taskforce, which led to the new centre that is partially funded by Tourism Vancouver’s $90-million investment. Tourism Vancouver launched the bid to bring the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Canada.

A wide range of programs began during Antonson’s watch, including the organisation’s partnership with the City of Vancouver on Keep Vancouver Spectacular (an annual clean-up initiative now in its 19th year), Canada’s largest restaurant promotion, Dine Out Vancouver Festival and creating Tickets Tonight, which sells over $3.5 million in performing arts and event tickets each year.  He also chaired development of the TaxiHost driver training program, which has seen thousands of drivers graduate from the Justice Institute’s program in the past 17 years.

Capilano University awarded Antonson an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2011, and he has been inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was presented with the IMEX Academy Award in Europe. Antonson is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Rick Antonson is also the author of the acclaimed books  “To Timbuktu for a Haircut; A Journey Through West Africa”, and “Route 66 Still Kicks; Driving America’s Main Street.” His forthcoming book is Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark; An Odyssey to Mount Ararat” to be released in 2016. 

He travels extensively around the world for business, speaking engagements and on personal journeys and is a firm believer that Tourism is a vital force for peace.