Breedlove earns certification

Jackson County TDA Executive Director Nick Breedlove, center, receives the Certified Destination Management Executive Credential July 25 in St. Louis. Presenting him with a plaque is Maura Gast, executive director of the Irving (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau and CDME Board Chair, left, and Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International.

Jackson County Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Nick Breedlove earned the Certified Destination Management Executive credential in St. Louis on July 25.

The credential is the highest individual educational achievement worldwide in the tourism industry offered through Destinations International. In the past two decades, only 400 industry leaders have received the credential. Breedlove was among 31 leaders who received the credential at the Destinations International annual conference.

The CDME program is the only integrated executive program specifically designed for destination management professionals and is the tourism industry’s highest individual educational achievement.

The program is designed to prepare experienced destination organization professionals to leverage their experience and to apply their knowledge with a focus on vision, leadership, productivity and implementing business strategies.

“Congratulations to those who have earned their CDME credential, the tourism industry’s highest individual achievement,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “These leaders have invested in their education and are now equipped with the knowledge needed to adapt to and manage the increasing change and competition facing our industry.”

“The communities that we serve can’t afford to stand still, and neither can we as destination leaders,” said Maura Gast, executive director of the Irving (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau and CDME Board Chair. “The CDME program pushes us to ‘think beyond our mandate and act beyond our tenure’ and to see our roles in our communities’ viability as something much bigger, and something much more integral to the community fabric.”

“I am incredibly proud to have completed this highly recognized and respected program,” Breedlove said. “The courses I took alongside CEO’s from major destinations and small destinations have proven invaluable in bringing back practical approaches to issues we all face. Credit also goes to the TDA’s Board of Directors who embrace and encourage personal and professional development.”

Under his leadership, Jackson County TDA in March was named the Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society at the Shining Example Award Ceremony held in Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition to the Shining Example Award, STS recently announced that Breedlove was selected to join its Board of Directors, one of two selected from the state.

Breedlove also serves on the board’s Education Committee. In July, Breedlove chaired the North Carolina caucus to the Congressional Summit on Tourism in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year he earned his Travel Marketing Professional certification, a three-year credentialed course through Southeast Tourism Society. Breedlove also serves on the Blue Ridge Parkway Association Board of Directors.

“The tourism industry has grown significantly to benefit Jackson County with the management and leadership of Executive Director Nick Breedlove,” JCTDA Chair Ann Self said. “This credential makes Nick an even more valuable asset to the county. The Jackson County TDA is committed to the objective of maintaining the highest skilled and most dynamic staff toward the vision of being the premier mountain destination in our region.”

The Jackson County TDA’s goal, is to promote the growth of year-round tourism opportunities that benefit the Jackson County economy.

The TDA’s efforts put people to work, grow jobs, build community and make our towns a vibrant place to live, play and work, Breedlove said. Visitors spend more than $500,000 a day in Jackson County, helping to build community by supporting those who live and work here.

Over the last year, the TDA board completed visitor profile research and strategic planning to guide its future goals.