Plenary Speakers


Tourism Naturally is honored to have guest speakers from around the world presenting at the conference this year. Their insights and experiences will bring depth and substance to mountain and coastal system dialogues in the tourism industry.

Welcome Remarks

Joe Blake

Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System

Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board, Master of Tourism Management Program, Colorado State University

Joe Blake is Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System.  As chancellor, he oversaw Colorado State University, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global.  He was the chief spokesperson for the CSU System, managed the System’s legislative operations and worked to help secure more sustainable funding for higher education in Colorado.

He currently Chairs Colorado Wants You, a statewide 501 (c)(3) organization created by business and civic leaders to support the military’s operational and combat units in Colorado.

A Colorado native, Joe was President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade.  Prior to his service to the Chamber Joe was part of the senior leadership team that created Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

He has served on the CSU Board of Governors, the Colorado Baseball Commission, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (Chair) and the Colorado Transportation Commission (Chair).

His past and present community service includes the Hospice of St. John Foundation, the Denver Zoological Foundation, The Denver Foundation, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, Denver County Court Judicial Nominating Commission, Colorado Concern and the Denver Metro Chamber.

Recognition for his past civic and community service includes the Denver Business Journal Legacy Award, The El Pomar Foundation Community Leadership Award, the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and lifetime achievement recognition from Metro Volunteers and the Denver Metro Chamber.

Joe is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado School of Law. He is the father of two children, Anne and Joe; and the grandfather of four grandsons.

Keynote Speakers

Omar-ValdezOmar Valdez

Executive Director, UNWTO.Themis Foundation

UNTWO.Themis Foundation website

Omar Valdez, Argentinean, holds a Bachelor degree in Public Relations and an Executive Master in Tourism Management at Instituto de Empresa, Madrid. Omar worked in different industries in Buenos Aires (Telecommunications, IT, Media) before moving to the Principality of Andorra, where he worked for Grandvalira (ski resort) for three years. After this tourism-related work experience, in 2004 Omar joined the UNWTO.Themis Foundation as a Senior Consultant, in charge of training and cooperation programmes of the UN World Tourism Organization. Since 2010 Omar is the Executive Director of the UNWTO.Themis Foundation.

Joseph O’Leary

Professor, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Colorado State University

Joseph T. O’Leary is a Professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.  His graduate degrees are from the University of Washington and Yale University. His undergraduate degree is from the University of New Brunswick.

He was formerly Dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and Professor and Department Head in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University.  He arrived at Texas A&M in July 2001 from Purdue University.

Joe has a prolific and distinguished publishing record in the tourism and recreation research areas.  He has published more than 250 refereed articles and publications on tourism and recreation. His research has involved knowledge management and analysis of large national and international studies of travel and recreation behavior. He received the prestigious national award, the Franklin D. and Theodore Roosevelt Excellence in Recreation and Park Research Award from the National Recreation and Park Association and the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award.

Joe is a member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration, the National Recreation and Park Association, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (North American section), served on the Education Committee for the World Tourism Organization and the Research Committee of the Travel Industry Association of America (now the United States Travel Association (USTA)), was Chair of the Committee on Tourism Statistics in the International Statistical Institute, was co-editor of the International Journal of Tourism Sciences, serves on the advisory board of the international journal Tourism Analysis and is on the research advisory board for the UNWTO sponsored INROUTE regional statistics project in Europe.  He serves on the Board of ADVENTgX (a tourism services and IT firm), was Chairman of the Board for the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Visit Fort Collins) and continues to serve on the Board of that organization. He also was on the Board and chaired the College Station, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau and served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Travel Industry Association. These activities regularly place him in situations to engage public and private organizations at the local, state, regional, national and international levels.

He has lectured and made presentations dealing with recreation and travel behavior, marketing and knowledge management to a broad spectrum of state, national and international audiences.  Joe serves as a consultant and is a founder of Fionn Group, LLC, which specializes in data-driven organizational strategy for the tourism and recreation industries. He also is one of the owners of a medical device company.

ClaveSalvador Anton Clavé

Professor of Regional Geographical Analysis, Rovira i Virgili University (Department of Geography)

Visiting Research Scholar, The George Washington University (International Institute of Tourism Studies)

Salvador Anton Clavé is a Full Professor of Regional Geographical Analysis at the Rovira i Virgili University, Catalonia (Spain) and Visiting Research Scholar at the International Institute of Tourism Studies at the George Washington University (USA). He currently serves as Director of the Doctoral Program in Tourism and Leisure at the Rovira i Virgili University, where he is also the Principal Researcher of the Research Group of Territorial Analysis and Tourism Studies. In addition to those positions, Salvador is the Director of Research at the Science and Technology Park for Tourism and Leisure of Catalonia and served as director/dean of the Tourism and Leisure School/Faculty of Tourism and Geography at the Rovira i Virgili University between 2002 and 2012.

His research concentrates on analysis of the evolution of tourist destinations, urban and regional tourism planning, theme parks development and globalization, tourism and ICT and issues concerning tourism policies and local development from an evolutionary approach. He has published in journals such as Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Destination Marketing and Management, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, European Urban and Regional Studies, Tourism Geographies or Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events and among his most relevant major publications are his books entitled The Global Theme Park Industry (CABI, 2007) Análisis Territorial del Turismo y Planificación de Destinos Turísticos (Tirant lo Blanch, 2011, co-authored with JF. Vera, F. López and M. Marchena), Geographies of Tourism: European Research Perspectives (Emerald, 2013, co-edited with J. Wilson) and Tourism Destination Evolution (Routledge, 2016, co-edited with P. Brouder, A. Gill and D. Ioannides).

Jing Hu

Dean, Wuhan Branch of China Tourism Academy, Central China Normal University

Jing Hu, PhD of Management, professor of Central China Normal University, doctoral supervisor; Dean of the Wuhan Branch of China Tourism Academy, Chief expert; Member of the Advisory Board of university education in Tourism Management under the Ministry of Education; Vice director of the professional board in tourism geography, Geographical Society of China; Vice chairman of Wuhan Tourism Association; President of the education training branch of Wuhan Tourism Association ; Member of the expert committee for the protection of Wuhan historical and cultural blocks and outstanding historical building

Prof. Hu has been devoted in the theoretical research and practical exploration of optimizing the usage of regional resources and environment, improving regional human-land-environment relationship, and promoting regional economic and social development. Her research interests cover tourism and regional development, tourism resources and environment, tourism planning. She mainly teaches ”Introduction to tourism”, ”construction and management of tourism destination“, ”regional tourism development theory and practice“ and other courses. She has published over one hundred of academic articles, as well as 9 academic books.

Andreas_RechkemmerAndreas Rechkemmer

Professor and American Humane Endowed Chair, University of Denver

Former Executive Director of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change at the United Nations University

Professor Andreas Rechkemmer is the American Humane Endowed Chair at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Denver, Dr. Rechkemmer held senior positions with the United Nations, including that of Executive Director of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change at the United Nations University. He also served as Chief Science and Policy Advisor of the Global Risk Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His previous academic appointments and affiliations include the University of Cologne, Free University of Berlin, Beijing Normal University, Colorado State University and the United Nations University.

Rechkemmer’s research interests include global sustainable development and social-ecological justice; holistic and interdisciplinary perspectives on resilience, including human individuals and communities, as well as ecosystems and the broader environment; the emerging “One Health” paradigm connecting the health and well-being of humans with that of animals and the environment; and the interface of sustainability, social development and human security.

He was principal investigator of various funded projects and managed grants from major science funders, including the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Research Council of Norway and the Federal Government of Germany.

Rechkemmer has authored, co-authored and edited several books as well as numerous articles and chapters. He is the editor of UNEO – Towards an International Environment Organization (2005) and serves as the chief editor of the United Nations and Global Change book series. He was awarded the Scheffel Prize for excellence in writing in 1985.

Raija Komppula

Professor, University of East Finland

Dr. Raija Komppula is Professor of Marketing, with an emphasis on Tourism Business, at the University of Eastern Finland’s Business School. She also lectures at the University of Lapland in Tourism Marketing and at the Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies. Her research interests include customer value-based experience design, customer involvement in new service development in tourism, destination branding, market orientation, small business research and entrepreneurship, and cooperation and networks. She has conducted research on these topics specifically in the context of rural tourism. Her research group is currently focusing on the field of well-being tourism regarding lakes and forests.

Professor Komppula’s publications include articles in Tourism Management,  Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, Tourism Review, Journal of Vacation Marketing, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Event Management, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism, Anatolia: An international Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, European Journal of Tourism Research, Information Technology & Tourism, Tourism Today, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, and the Journal of Small Business Management. She has also co-authored two text books in tourism marketing in Finland and she is author of several book chapters in international edited books in the tourism field.

Professor Komppula has several positions of trust within the tourism industry in Finland: she has been member of the Executive board of Finnish Tourist Board for more than 10 years, a member of the board of directors for a private hotel chain in Lapland, Finland (Lapland Hotels) and a holiday center in North-Karelia (Huhmarisvaaran Loma Ltd). She also holds several positions of trust for different development projects in the tourism field in Finland.

Professor Komppula is member, and committee member of AIEST, and member of TRC (Tourist Research Center).

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