Jerad Bachar has been named president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, taking over the organization at possibly the worst time for generating conference, trade show, and tourist business for the city. Bachar had previously served in a number of roles at the not-for-profit, but was chosen for his experience in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East, as well as his local expertise.
MeetingsNet: You are taking over in a pretty tough time. What is your first priority?
Jerad Bachar: The number-one priority, for all destinations, is to rebuild. As society and the economy begin to reopen, our primary responsibility is to collaborate with all stakeholders to safely move toward recovery. We are working with our business community, government officials, and strategic partners to open our businesses and encourage safe travel guidelines. We look forward to welcoming back our individual and group travel segments, but we need to design plans that ensure long-term, sustainable recovery.
MeetingsNet: What are your priorities for VisitPittsburgh after the pandemic?
Bachar: We are undergoing an organizational transformation, in line with what we see happening in our industry’s transformation. This is a difficult but intriguing time in our local community and across the travel industry. We are focusing on efficiency and impact as we work toward enhancing the tourism economy across our region.
MeetingsNet: Does your previous work in the Middle East give you a useful perspective in your new position?
Bachar: I believe that it does. All leaders in our industry have developed their skills and perspective from their own experiences. My experience in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain provided me a unique perspective from a developed and developing market point of view. These destinations are very global in their development approach. The diversification of source markets was broad and provided many great industry opportunities.
MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Bachar: Some are surprised to know that I grew up on a cattle farm in central Kansas. My childhood home was situated in a small valley outside of Russell, Kansas, where we raised various animals and also grew wheat. Tell Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.