Bob Whitley, president of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), died on May 14 following complications from abdominal surgery. He was 66.
Whitley’s career in the tourism field spanned more than 40 years, including both private sector and government positions. Before joining USTOA, Whitley held positions as the director of the Florida Department of Tourism, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Tourism and director of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. His association with USTOA dates back to 1978, when he was selected by the group’s board of directors to head the national nonprofit organization. During his tenure at USTOA, the organization grew to become one of the most powerful associations of its kind in the travel industry.
Whitley was the recipient of numerous marketing awards for travel promotion and served on the board of directors of many travel industry associations. In 2003, the members of USTOA honored him for 25 years of outstanding service, leadership and dedication to the organization. As an expert spokesperson for the travel industry, Whitley appeared on television and radio stations throughout the U.S. and the U.K. During his tenure at USTOA, he traveled to more than 100 countries and was a featured speaker at tourism conferences worldwide.
“Bob was an inveterate traveler who served as a goodwill ambassador throughout the world. He was the driving force behind USTOA’s success, and he will be sorely missed,” said John Stachnik, association chairman.
Whitley is survived by his wife, Carol, and three children, Kelly Brock, Scott Whitley and Shaun Whitley, and five grandchildren.
Contributions in Whitley’s name may be made to Tourism Cares, a nonprofit association he helped found. (www.tourismcares.org; www.ustoa.com)