Kurt Burkhart has served as the Executive Director for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau since January 2009. Over the last eight-plus years, and together with his team, they have amassed millions of dollars of direct, attributable earned media for the greater Charlottesville area, and have accumulated numerous accolades for their community, including a Platinum HSMAI Adrian Award for social media marketing.
Prior to arriving in Central Virginia, Kurt served as Executive Director for the Carlsbad Convention and Visitors Bureau, a coastal city 30-miles north of San Diego where he led that city’s promotional efforts to build visitation from 2001-2008. It was in Carlsbad where he brought from conception-to-completion San Diego County’s first tourism business improvement district for bureau funding, becoming the 13th TBID in a state that totals more than 100.
His career as a destination marketing professional began in Flagstaff, Arizona, where, as Director of the Flagstaff CVB, he had the privilege of marketing his community as a “destination” rather than a gateway city to the Grand Canyon. Kurt worked closely with the Native American Tourism Council where he collaborated with the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache nations., and served on the board of the Arizona Tourism Alliance.
From 1995-98, Kurt provided tourism policy guidance and international trade expertise to the governor of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as the chief executive’s Special Assistant for Tourism and Trade. He traveled extensively throughout Asia, coordinating trade missions to China, Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His work concluded in 1998 with the successful completion of a $240 million gaming resort on the commonwealth island of Tinian, made possible through foreign investment.
It was during the late 90s when he catapulted the Mariana Islands onto the global arena with the successful launch of, The Sights and Sounds of the Mariana Islands, a year-long, three-Continent advertising blitz featured on CNN International. In the early 90s, Kurt directed communications for the governor and established the Northern Mariana Islands Film Office, serving as its first film commissioner. In 1995, he assisted Dan Rather and General Norman Schwarzkopf during the filming of, War in the Pacific, a CBS Television Special which chronicled the Battle of Saipan in 1944.
He and his Japanese-born wife were also owner-operators of Adventure Dives & Tours, Saipan, a receptive tour operator and dive equipment wholesaler. Kurt has been a practitioner of Shotokan karate for nearly 2 decades, has 3 marathons to his credit, logged over 500 dives as a professional Divemaster and still enjoys traveling to the Grand Canyon every several years to hike.
Kurt serves on the board of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association, and was formerly on the board of the Virginia Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus. He received the recognition by Destination Marketing Association International as a Certified Destination Management Executive and serves on the Professional Development Committee for Destinations International.