Shock & Awe: CITC changes course

The Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) put a fresh face forward at its 44th annual AGM in Toronto yesterday (March 29) minus the face that has been most associated with the professional development organization for the past nearly 17 years. A shock decision to relieve president and COO Steve Gillick (and publications and financial coordinator Ruby Shepard) of duties earlier in the day left delegates buzzing and incoming chair Ed Bennington uneasy as he stickhandled through the proceedings. One long-time CITC member declared he was “surprised and disappointed” at the move, later implying he thought members might have received more warning. Another member commended the CITC board for making “a tough business decision.” Bennigton said the moves had been in the works for months and that the board “agonized” over the decision, which ultimately were necessitated by the organization’s negative balance sheet, forecast deficit for the coming year and “flat” membership numbers, which have remained around 2,000 for years. “In developing our future vision, we [the board] felt we needed to make some changes with the staff to support that,” he said, adding, “We can’t continue doing what we’re doing or we won’t be here.” That new vision — predicated on increasing membership numbers and building stronger industry relationships — was outlined for the roughly 40 attendees by CITC business development manager Ryan DiMarco, a relative newcomer to the organization whom Bennington declared to Press Today to be “the new face of CITC” — particularly with the revelation that a new president will not be sought (though CITC will hire an operations manager). The affable and seemingly energetic DiMarco fits the bill for the new-look CITC, whose mandate, says Bennignton, is “to grow and flourish.” And while the chair concedes that that will take time, he vows, “We’re motivated!” For more on this story, please pick up the April 5 issue of Travel Courier.