Huntington Beach, Calif.— July 2020 — Visit Huntington Beach’s (VHB) Chief Marketing Officer, Susan Thomas, announces she will retire from the organization on August 3, 2020.

Thomas has served in her current role since March 2015 and played a critical role in the organization’s strategically integrated and ROI-focused marketing, research, communications, travel trade, and film programs. Under her leadership, the destination’s brand experience, storytelling, and market share strengthened globally. Thomas led successful marketing campaigns such as the Women In Action Sports initiative and received numerous accolades including an HSMAI Platinum Adrian Award for Best PR Campaign in Travel Worldwide and US Travel ESTY Award for Best PR Campaign in US. She specializes in industry best practices, performance quality standards, accreditations, and also had a significant impact in mentoring multi-generational staff members.

“When Susan Thomas said yes to joining the VHB Team over five years ago, we knew the singer Tina Turner was right. Susan was, and still is, ‘simply the best.’ I have been so fortunate to have personally worked with Susan for over two decades at several destination organizations. Her strategic and measured approach to all things marketing related, as well as her amazing mentoring experience with our younger staff, will be greatly missed by VHB. We are all better because of Susan. If you happen to see a book authored by Susan Thomas one day, buy it! She has that type of impact on people’s lives,” said Kelly Miller, President & CEO.

“It has been a tremendous honor to work with the travel and tourism business community here in Huntington Beach and the talented, committed team at VHB for the last five years. I am grateful to have also worked with so many fine industry professionals during my many years on Hilton Head Island. It's been wonderful to be so connected to both of these diverse destinations on each coast of the US. I am looking forward to returning home to South Carolina to be closer to family and pursue some lifelong goals such as more time for writing, educational engagement, and supporting a project around racial reconciliation,” said Thomas.

Prior to her role at Visit Huntington Beach, Thomas served as the Senior Vice President of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau and worked in the tourism industry for over 25 years. While at Hilton Head Island, she served on the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park Board of Directors, was chairman of the Southeast Tourism Society and South Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition, and personally received Destinations International’s Destination Champion award in 2009. She oversaw several community projects including redevelopment plans, tourism master planning and Hilton Head Island’s Bike Friendly Community Initiative. Thomas is an advocate for the industry with affiliations with the Forbes Business Communications Council, Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Master’s Circle, and received her Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation in 2016.

Thomas will remain in an advisory capacity through the organization’s extensive hiring process for her replacement to ensure that the next Chief Marketing Officer possesses the vision, experience, talent and leadership qualities necessary to deliver on VHB’s strategic plans.

About Visit Huntington Beach

Visit Huntington Beach is the official destination marketing organization of Huntington Beach, Surf City USA®. One of Southern California’s premier coastal destinations, Huntington Beach is the ideal location for a California family vacation, active outdoor adventure trip or relaxing weekend getaway. With 10 miles of wide-open white sand California beaches, Huntington Beach is a destination of choice for vacationers and business travelers alike. To plan your Surf City USA® vacation, or to learn more about Huntington Beach, see the Visit Huntington Beach website at or call 1-800-729-6232 for a free Visitors Guide.