New Puerto Rico destination marketing organization CEO appointed
SAN JUAN — Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy congratulated the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) board Thursday for appointing Brad Dean as CEO of the private nonprofit corporation responsible for promoting the island as a tourism destination abroad.
DMO Chairman Jon Borschow announced the designation and said Dean would start at the end of April. Dean served as the president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for 15 years and reportedly resigned assuming his new position.
South Carolina’s MyrtleBeachSC.com News outlet had published several articles that associate Dean with a state campaign donation scheme.
“In 2009, local Chamber of Commerce members walked into a local bank and wrote out $324,000 in sequentially numbered $1,000.00 cashier checks. These checks were later handed out to local politicians by Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce C.E.O. Brad Dean to elected politicians on city council and also throughout State Government,” the outlet published in 2016.
In September last year, the writer’s sources said now-convicted former South Carolina House member Jim Merrill’s dealings with House member Alan Clemmons were in state law enforcement division hands.
Clemmons, the piece reads, is “notably close” to Dean, and “accepted $24,000 in ($1,000 dollar increment) cashiers checks typically handed out by” Dean “just before a 1% tax was approved in the House of Representatives providing the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce over $25 million annually in tax welfare,” adding that “The true sources of the funds have never been discovered.”
Dean told a Puerto Rico news outlet that he has not been “charged with any wrongdoing” in relation to the “allegations of corruption,” adding he did “nothing illegal or inappropriate.”
He also revealed he will be making $250,000 a year in addition to incentives and the ability to make 30% of “his salary on top of that,” as well as receive $750 a month for a car allowance, be provided with temporary housing for six months, and have “several flights” between Puerto Rico and South Carolina paid for.
Dean has been a member of the US Travel Association, Destinations International, National Advisory Committee on Travel and Infrastructure, and U.S. Commerce Department Travel and Tourism Advisory boards. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Illinois.
“Brad Dean is a highly respected professional in the industry with about 25 years of success in the marketing of tourist destinations. He lived in Puerto Rico some time before and we are sure that the Board of Directors of the DMO made the best decision to have him back in Puerto Rico, to be able to count on his experience and promote our Island in an effective way,” the governor said in a statement.
He explained that the DMO is an entity created in 2017 to design and develop strategies for the promotion of Puerto Rico, led by the tourism industry’s private sector. The organization reportedly will receive a $25 million yearly budget.
“Dean’s experience, talent, vision, and broad industry connections prepare him to lead the brand-new Puerto Rico DMO. He has an impressive track record of destination marketing, product development, and team-building, both in the public and private sectors,” Borschow said.
After his appointment was announced, Dean said he was “honored to return to Puerto Rico and build a world-class Destination Marketing Organization with a powerful global brand. Puerto Rico is a special place with wonderful people and unrivaled potential.”
The new CEO of the DMO added that “The Island’s recent past has been challenging but the future is bright for Puerto Rico and its tourism industry. I look forward to the opportunity of using the transformative power of travel and tourism to help launch Puerto Rico, its residents, and its businesses forward.”
In an interview, Tourism Director Carla Campos told Caribbean Business that the DMO is currently hiring executives via a recruiting firm and a “human resources” firm is tasked with evaluating Puerto Rico Tourism Co. employees to fill the rest of the organization’s positions.
In the government’s statement, Campos said the Tourism Co. is “working aggressively in the transition from marketing abroad responsibilities to the DMO, and the arrival of Mr. Dean, who has our full support, is instrumental in achieving an uninterrupted transition.”