New President and CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority named
Julie Coker Takes the Helm of the San Diego Tourism Authority
Julie Coker has taken over as the new president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) as the organization begins to enact its recovery plan for the local tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Coker, a hospitality industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience, comes to San Diego after serving as the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Originally, Coker was to begin her new role with the SDTA in March but delayed her start date so she could help the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau navigate the ongoing pandemic. During that transition, Coker gave up her salary so hourly team members could continue to work.
Despite the challenging times, Coker said she is excited to help San Diego’s tourism industry get back to business and cement its reputation as one of the country’s premier destinations.
“San Diego is no doubt a special place that offers visitors a wealth of experiences from our beaches and our bays to our diverse vibrant neighborhoods and our rich arts and cultural offerings,” Coker said. “I look forward to helping tell San Diego’s story to the world and attracting more visitors and more business to benefit our local economy.”
SDTA Board Chair Daniel Kuperschmid said the organization is fortunate to have Coker in charge during these challenging times.
“Julie is known throughout the industry for her dynamic and positive leadership. The combination of her experience and can-do attitude will be invaluable to both the organization and the local tourism community as we begin our recovery,” Kuperschmid said. “She also brings a fresh perspective and passion for the destination that will serve the SDTA and San Diego well.”
Prior to her tenure as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Coker served as the organization’s executive vice president. Coker spent 21 years with Hyatt Hotels, where she held general manager positions for properties in Philadelphia, Chicago and Oakbrook, Illinois. Among her many accomplishments, Coker has served as chair of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Women in Lodging council, and as co-chair of U.S. Travel Association’s Meetings Mean Business. In addition, she is a member of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and of the Philadelphia Chapter of Links, Incorporated. She has served on the advisory boards of the Philadelphia International Airport, Boy Scouts of America – Cradle to Liberty Council, Temple University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism and the Philadelphia Center City District. She served as treasurer for International Association of Exhibits Events (IAEE). She serves on the executive committees of U.S. Travel Association, Destinations International and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Lastly, she served on Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s transition team representing the travel sector.
In her new role, Coker will direct the management and strategic development of the SDTA to ensure effective sales, marketing and promotion of the region for the economic benefit of the San Diego community. She will also serve as a key community leader working in close partnership with city and county officials, tourism industry organizations locally and worldwide, and the business community to ensure the growth and welfare of the tourism industry.
She replaces Joe Terzi, who had announced his retirement in 2019 after 10 years of service. Terzi continued to lead the SDTA during the transition, officially stepping down on May 30. He will remain active in the local community, serving on the board of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District and continuing his work on Balboa Park initiatives.