Upchurch to step down as President and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee at end of the year 

VISIT Milwaukee Begins National Search Process 

Milwaukee – (May 20, 2019) – VISIT Milwaukee announced today that Paul Upchurch has informed the Board of Directors of his resignation as the president and CEO. Upchurch has led the organization for more than nine years. During Upchurch’s tenure, tourism spending doubled from $1.6 billion in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2018, and Upchurch recently assisted the DNC Host Committee in securing the DNC 2020 bid. 

Upchurch informed the Board of Directors of his resignation now in order to allow VISIT Milwaukee time to begin the search for its new president and CEO, while he stays on to assist with the approvals needed for the expansion of the new convention center and transition planning through December 31. VISIT Milwaukee is beginning a national search process for a new permanent president and CEO immediately. The search is being spearheaded by board chair Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of SURG Restaurant Group LLC, who will be forming a local committee. The board is optimistic that it will have a new president and CEO in place by the end of the year . 

Paul Upchurch joined VISIT Milwaukee as president and CEO in March of 2010. As the city’s convention and visitors bureau, VISIT Milwaukee is the organization responsible for the local tourism economy, which resulted in more than $5.7 billion in estimated total business sales in the greater Milwaukee area, supported more than 52,000 hospitality industry jobs and provided $372 million in state and local tax revenue in 2018. 

“It’s been a privilege to lead this amazing organization that is critical to the future of our city,” said Upchurch. “After more than nine years, it’s the right time for me to pass the torch to the next leader.” 

Upchurch has been approached with other career opportunities, but he has decided to stay on through the end of the year to help with the approvals needed for the expansion of the new convention center. 

“We thank Paul for his many years of leadership and his dedication to VISIT Milwaukee and our community,” said VISIT Milwaukee board chair Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of SURG Restaurant Group LLC. “The board and I are working with VISIT Milwaukee leadership to ensure a smooth transition for our members, our staff, our community partners and all of our important stakeholders.” 

Shaikh said the many accomplishments of VISIT Milwaukee during Upchurch’s tenure will leave a lasting impact on the Milwaukee community, including: 

  • Assisted the DNC Host Committee in securing the DNC 2020 bid, 
  • Secured the USA Triathlon for three consecutive years -- a first for a USA Triathlon, 
  • Welcomed the CONNECT Marketplace convention for the first ti me in Milwaukee 
  • Brought back the National Governor’s Conference in 2013, 
  • Assisted with the transition of the Wisconsin Center District leadership team, 
  • Created VISIT Milwaukee’s award-winning website, and 
  • Spearheaded the DearMKE project in 2012. 

Upchurch is currently Chair of the Governor’s Council on Tourism and Chair of the State Department of Tourism’s Joint Effort Marketing Grant Committee. He sits on the Boards of the Milwaukee Downtown BID 21, Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association, Wisconsin Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus. Upchurch also chaired the City of Milwaukee’s Image Committee. 

Upchurch’s 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry has included operations, sales and marketing positions in hotels and private clubs in more than ten different cities in the Midwest and the South. He directed multiple hotel developments and openings, including the largest hotel in the state of Texas in Dallas. He held a senior position in operations at Marcus Hotels & Resorts in Milwaukee from 2001 to 2006, and it was his love of Milwaukee that brought him back. Although a native of Michigan and graduate of University of Michigan, Upchurch still counts himself as a Badger fan and has a passion for sports and healthy activities. 

About VISIT Milwaukee 
VISIT Milwaukee is the Greater Milwaukee area’s convention and visitors bureau, marketing the destination as a top choice for business, convention, and leisure travel to national and international visitors to increase the economic impact of tourism in the region. Each year, tourism supports over 50,000 fu ll-time jobs and brings in more than $5 billion to the community. VISIT Milwaukee has over 680 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services and area businesses. The City of Wauwatosa, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and the Wisconsin Center District are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call 1-800-554-1448 or visit www.visitmilwaukee.org