David Attaway is the new executive director of Tourism, Recreation, and Convention Commission

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Following a nationwide search that involved applicants from as far away as California, the board of the Switzerland County Tourism, Recreation, and Convention Commission has announced the David Attaway has been hired as its new executive director.

“I think we’ve got a winner here,” board member Dan Hoberland said of David Attaway. “We went through a nationwide search that involved all available resources, and after our board interviewed the top three candidates, I think it was obvious that David stood out head and shoulders above the others — both of whom were also very qualified.”

David Attaway is already on the job at the Visitors Center, and is currently working on developing relationships within the community and finding his way around. Although he’s new to Switzerland County, his resume certainly shows that he has the knowledge to take on the challenge of marketing Switzerland County to visitors.

He comes here from Indianapolis, where he had been taking some time off after some exhaustive work in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

“I took some of my retirement in my middle years,” David Attaway said with a smile.

In Las Vegas, he worked as the senior vice president of marketing, sales, and entertainment for the Aladdin Casino Resort. In that capacity he oversaw a hotel with more than 2,800 rooms; coordinated activities within the adjoining shopping complex, and was responsible for a 7,000 seat theater on the site.

He became president and CEO of the Aladdin Music Project, a joint venture with the Planet Hollywood restaurant group; handling advertising, marketing operations, and entertainment.

As the Aladdin construction project moved forward, David Attaway found himself working 20-hour days during the construction, making sure that each and every phase of the project that he was responsible for was handled perfectly. All of that meant a very hectic pace, and in 2001 David Attaway left Aladdin for semi-retirement, taking classes at a school in Texas.

Originally from Ohio, David Attaway has a brother who lives in Indianapolis and another brother in Louisville; so after he finished his classes, he moved to Indianapolis to be closer to his family. When he decided it was time to come out of his self-imposed retirement, an advertisement searching for a new executive director here in Switzerland County caught his eye.

“It is a good chance to get back in this area and get closer to my family,” David Attaway said. “And — of course — Switzerland County is such a beautiful place and the people have been so welcoming. I really feel at home here.”

He also sees real possibilities to market this county to visitors from all over the area — and the country.

“Having been through the interview process and doing research on the county and speaking with the board members, I’ve been really impressed with the steps that the board has taken and the programming that has already been established,” David Attaway said. “We’ll be expanding on those as well as developing new programs.”

He says that his task here in Switzerland County is very similar to his job when he worked in Lake Tahoe, California.

“There are really a lot of similarities,” he said. “They had four casinos there that were operating, and then you had all of the beautiful scenery that attracted visitors.”

David Attaway says that the presence of Belterra Casino Resort and Spa is, “A blessing in that we already have a big attraction” for visitors; and says that both the Tourism office and Belterra can work together effectively to create a “win-win” for both sides.

“When you’ve got a ‘magnet’ like Belterra, it certainly helps,” David Attaway said. “There’s a lot we can do as a community to attract those visitors down into our shops around the county. We need to do things that drive repeat business, and we do that by enhancing the quality of the experience that visitors have here.”

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Dan Hoberland said that about a year ago the tourism board began working with Timothy Hosey and Associates to evaluate all aspects of the Welcome Center and its operations. When executive director Rhonda Griffin resigned during that process, the board — with the assistance of Timothy Hosey — contracted with Strategic Development Group to handle the search for qualified applicants.

Strategic Development Group pared the resumes down to about 10 applicants who were the most qualified; and Tim Hosey then interviewed those candidates before recommending three finalists to the local board.

After interviewing those three, David Attaway was offered the position.