• Skagit Tourism Bureau hires first CEO

    December 14, 2021

    The Skagit Tourism Bureau, created to promote the area worldwide as a travel destination, is ready to get to work after hiring Jake Buganski as the organization’s first CEO.

    Buganski joins the organization after most recently serving as vice president of strategy at Tempest, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing and customer relationship management company for the travel and tourism industry.

    Prior to that, Jake held several public sector and government positions in the tourism industry, serving as executive director at Visit South Jersey, President and CEO of Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, and as executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism.

    “I am thrilled to be joining the Skagit Valley tourism community and helping to establish the county’s first destination marketing organization,” Buganski said. “I commend the members of the community who have spent years developing an inventory of assets to promote to visitors, and those who recognized the opportunity to leverage the power of tourism as a catalyst for economic development.” 

    Buganski’s hiring is effective Nov. 1. The Skagit Tourism Bureau has been formed to meet the tourism marketing needs of Skagit County, and is a collaborative effort among the lodging businesses, municipalities, chambers of commerce, and EDASC to create a strategic destination marketing organization to promote tourism to Skagit County.

    With Buganski at the helm, the Skagit Tourism Bureau will market the region to new and wider audiences to bring visitors from all over the world to enjoy Skagit County while bringing more revenue to the area, said And Mayer, President and CEO of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and current chair of the Skagit County Chamber Executive Directors Association.

    “We have long recognized the importance of tourism and bringing more visitors to Skagit County,” Mayer said, “It helps in terms of revenues generated for our hotels, restaurants, shops, and municipalities, jobs supported, and more exposure created for our region.” 

    Monique Brigham of the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce also served on the hiring committee.

    EDASC will be fostering the Skagit Tourism Bureau, serving as its fiscal agent and performing other organizational duties.

    Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said Buganski’s arrival couldn’t be better timed.

    “Our hospitality industry needs a boost now more than ever,” Janicki said. “It is the perfect moment to put the Skagit Tourism Bureau into action.”

    Added Kristen Keltz, member of the advisory and hiring committees, “With Jake as the lead, the Skagit Tourism Bureau will strategically brand and market the abundance of tourism activities we have here in Skagit County.”

    Lennart Bentsen, a member of the advisory and hiring committees, said Jake’s hiring is an important milestone.

    “This is a critical stage in the development of the Skagit Tourism Bureau,” Bentsen said. “We are excited and fortunate to have someone of Jake’s talents and experience taking the lead.”