Fairbanks, Alaska (AK) – Explore Fairbanks Board of Directors Chair Buzzy Chiu announced today that Scott McCrea, director of tourism and convention sales for the organization, was selected by the board to be the next president and CEO beginning June 1, 2021. McCrea succeeds Deb Hickok who served as CEO since 1999.
“Scott’s success as director of tourism and convention sales and the local, statewide, national and international relationships he has developed have been impressive and will serve us well as he takes on the CEO position,” said Chiu. “His passion and enthusiasm for tourism and visitors to Fairbanks and the Interior is contagious. We could not ask for a better person to continue to move Explore Fairbanks from the throes of the pandemic back to a brighter more robust future.”
McCrea was selected from a nationwide search that began on February 1, 2021. Interviews were conducted by an 11-member transition team composed of executive committee members and past chairs of the board, community representatives and one staff member. Chiu noted that Hickok announced her resignation last November to be effective May 31, 2021 in order to give the board time to have a thoughtful process in finding the new CEO.
“It truly is an honor to be given this opportunity, and to continue building upon the success that Deb has put into place along with the amazing team here at Explore Fairbanks,” said McCrea. “Though this last year has been one of the most challenging times ever for our industry, there is reason for optimism looking ahead.” McCrea cited indicators such as the increased airlift at the Fairbanks International Airport for this coming summer, the success in the state and across the country with vaccine distribution, and pent-up demand within the domestic leisure market as reasons for the optimism.
“Throughout the pandemic, Explore Fairbanks has continued marketing,” said McCrea. “Those marketing endeavors, and securing the necessary funding to expand on those endeavors, is going to be extremely important moving forward as we keep Fairbanks in mind as a year-round destination to domestic and international travelers alike.”
A 34-year resident of Fairbanks, McCrea joined Explore Fairbanks in June of 2014. He had previously worked for what was then called the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau in the late 1990s. As director of tourism, and recently as director of tourism and convention sales, McCrea oversees the organization’s marketing efforts with domestic and international travel trade, including the direct management of two international contractors. One of McCrea’s first priorities was to develop and implement the organization’s first direct marketing efforts in the emerging Mainland China market, leading up several statewide sales missions to the country. Last year McCrea successfully developed a new strategic travel trade marketing plan to help the local visitor industry begin the road to recovery due to the devastating impact of COVID-19.
McCrea graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1994. In addition to his time in the visitor industry, McCrea has spent 15 years working in leadership roles in marketing and public relations in Fairbanks, including six years as the executive director of marketing and communications at UAF. He is a previous recipient of the Alaska Journal of Commerce Top 40 Under 40 Award, the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Award for Community Support, and the UAF Alumni Achievement Award for University Support.
McCrea currently serves on the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Fairbanks and the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Linda have an 11-year-old son and he has two sons, ages 13 and 20, from a previous marriage.