Passing the Torch to Ross Birch at BIVB

George Applegate retires, Ross Birch takes over the Big Island Visitors Bureau’s top post By: Marty Wentzel
Ross Birch // © 2013 the Big Island Visitors Bureau
Ross Birch // © 2013 the Big Island Visitors Bureau

The Details

Big Island Visitors Bureau


The name George Applegate has long been synonymous with the Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB), where he served as executive director for the past 13 years. 

Recently, however, Applegate announced his retirement from the bureau and passed the torch to Ross Birch, a respected marketer on the island who brings more than 20 years of experience to BIVB’s top position.

“For more than a decade, I’ve witnessed first-hand George’s love for Hawaii Island and passion for the visitor industry as he led the BIVB team,” said John Monahan, president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, BIVB’s parent agency. “He has done some remarkable work to grow Hawaii Island as an adventure destination for travelers, while never losing sight of his roots as a local boy growing up in the islands.”

Applegate began his career as a bellman for Naniloa Hotel in Hilo more than 40 years ago. After serving as vice president of Big Island Tours of Hawaii, he joined BIVB in 1989 as director of sales and marketing and became executive director in 2000.   

Birch moved to BIVB from his post as general manager of Makalei Golf Club. He has served on BIVB’s board of directors for ten of the past 13 years.  

“I’m proud to hand the reigns over to Ross, whose good business sense and innate knowledge of our island will help continue our efforts in rebranding Hawaii Island as an inspiring destination,” said Applegate. “We’ve built a strong team that is equipped to help him continue the good work initiated by those who served before us.”

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