WALLA WALLA, Wash. – One of Washington wine country’s most important regions is gaining a tourism expert who has led Alaska’s travel industry for more than a decade.
Ron Peck will join Tourism Walla Walla in a couple of weeks as its executive director. He will work hand in glove with the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce to promote one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier wine destinations – a region that has developed its culinary and art sectors alongside the burgeoning wine industry.
“Wine has driven tourism development over the past 15 years,” said Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.
Michele Rennie, a longtime wine executive in Washington for Ste. Michelle and Ascentia, is a member of the Tourism Walla Walla board of directors and has been serving as its interim executive director for several months. She is anticipating good things with Peck’s arrival.
“We’re excited because of his outstanding work heading up Alaska tourism,” she said.
Scott Peters, Tourism Walla Walla’s board president, echoed those sentiments.
“Ron’s experience directing Alaska’s travel marketing efforts and growing the multibillion dollar tourism industry will be a tremendous asset as we continue working to increase the number of leisure, group and business travelers to the valley.”
Walla Walla Valley a homecoming for WSU grad
Peck, a Washington State University graduate, has spent 36 years in Alaska tourism, starting as a reservations and customer service agent for Alaska Airlines in Juneau in 1977. After nearly 20 years with Alaska Air, he began working as director of sales and marketing for Princess Tours and Princess Alaska Lodges, then began working for the Alaska Travel Industry Association and was its president and chief operating officer before deciding to return to Washington state.
“Walla Walla has done a great job of establishing and being true to its brand,” Peck said. “I am excited to be back in Washington, and my wife and I are looking forward to actively promoting and recreating in a great part of the state.”
Wine No. 1 driver in Walla Walla Valley
Rennie said wine is the valley’s No. 1 tourism attraction, followed by food, the vibrant downtown and the region’s 300 days of sunshine per year. She said Tourism Walla Walla’s role is to promote the region’s arts and culture and help create an outstanding visitor experience.
“That’s what we hope to deliver,” she said.
Wollmuth said Tourism Walla Walla has a solid promotional budget, which helps the wine industry.
“We provide the direction for wine tourism, then look to them for support and getting the word out,” he said.
He said that wine, tourism and the chamber have a strong history of working together.
“We have good collaboration in the community,” Wollmuth said. “We’re not all going in different directions.”