Sage of tourism industry appointed to LTVA board
Dennis Harmon, managing director of Heavenly Ski Resort, will bring 23 years of tourism experience when he takes a seat Thursday on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board of Directors.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good background for this type of thing,” he said, referring to his years in the ski industry and tourism in general that includes organizations on the local, state and national levels. “The LTVA has an important role to play in the community and we (Heavenly) like to be at the table when the decisions are made.”
Harmon was appointed by the LTVA board in December to fill the member-at-large seat formerly held by John Wagnon, Heavenly’s vice-president of marketing. Other applicants for the position were John Rice, general manager of Sierra-at-Tahoe and Tim Cohee, president of Kirkwood Ski Resort.
The at-large seat is appointed by the seven-member board for a two-year term. Wagnon’s term expired in November.
The other six seats are filled by appointments from the South Lake Tahoe City Council, the Douglas County Board of Commissioner, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance and the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association.
The at-large seat is designed to represent aspects of Tahoe’s tourism industry beyond those six organizations.
Harmon expects to spend some time meeting with community leaders in other tourism industries to learn more about their needs and interests.
Harmon arrived at Lake Tahoe in 1991 to oversee Heavenly for then-owner Kanko Kamori. He previously worked at Steamboat and Aspen ski resorts in Colorado. While in Aspen in the 1980s, he served five years on the Aspen Resort Association Board of Directors, which he described as similar to the LTVA.
Harmon currently serves on the California Commission on Tourism. He was part of the original task force that created the California Tourism Marketing Act, approved by the state tourism industry in 1997.
In the ski industry, Harmon has served on both the National and the California Ski Areas Associations.
“A lot of tourism-oriented stuff,” he said, summing up his experience.
Since his arrival at Lake Tahoe, Harmon has volunteered for such local organizations at the George Whittell Boosters Club, the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation and the Coordinated Transit System Board of Directors.
As a member of the LTVA Board of Directors, Harmon considers his chief mission is to work in concert with the other members to “make smart decisions on where to spend limited marketing dollars.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge, he said, is to find a new sponsor for the popular Celebrity Golf Championship, which brings national attention to Lake Tahoe.
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