OMAHA, NE. June 15, 2020 – The city of Omaha has accepted the resignation of Visit Omaha Executive Director Keith Backsen, effective July 3, 2020. Backsen has held this position for five years and is stepping down for personal reasons.
“Keith has provided excellent vision and leadership for the Convention and Visitors Bureau,” said Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert. “Keith and his team have elevated Omaha’s reputation as a popular destination for visitors. I thank him and wish him well.”
Under Backsen’s leadership, Omaha has experienced five straight years of tourism growth. Tourism contributes $2 billion to the city’s economy each year and supports 17,826 jobs. Backsen was influential in increasing awareness of tourism’s impact on the city’s economy, communicating this message regularly with government leaders, stakeholders, and residents.
“It’s been a true honor to serve the Omaha community,” said Backsen. “I’ve enjoyed my time here and will miss working with the talented and dedicated team at Visit Omaha.”
During Backsen’s tenure as executive director, Omaha hosted RCMA EMERGE, ASAE Leadership Conference, and the American Bus Association’s Annual Marketplace, increasing national exposure for the city. Backsen was instrumental in creating the Destination Marketing Corporation, which allows Omaha to be more competitive when bidding for large national conventions and events. He worked with the City of Omaha Planning Department to develop new guidelines for hotel development in the downtown convention district. Backsen led an effort to bring a regional approach to tourism, developing the annual Omaha Metro Area Tourism Awards to honor hospitality staff throughout a three-county region. He also led the organization through the process of earning official accreditation through Destination International’s Accreditation Program (DMAP). Additional accomplishments include service on a variety of boards, including: Destination International Foundation Board of Trustees; Simpleview Advisory Board; University of Nebraska – Lincoln Hospitality Program; and as Chair of ASAE’s Industry Partner Alliance.