After 20 years as the Quad-Cities' "voice of tourism," Joe Taylor is retiring from the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at the end of the year.
Taylor, 63, has led the regional tourism bureau as president and CEO since May 1, 1998. His last day with the bureau will be Dec. 31.
His retirement was approved Thursday by the bureau's board of directors following an hour-long executive session.
"We opted to go with his (Taylor's) original request to retire at the end of 2018," Deanna Jensen-Valliere, board chair, said after the meeting. "We are committed to providing him with a great (retirement) package."
"We have a great deal of gratitude to Joe for all his years of service. He has been the voice of tourism, the voice of the Quad-Cities for many years," she said.
Valliere-Jensen said the board plans to form a search committee that includes Taylor, board members, hoteliers and community leaders. "We want him to lead the charge to bring in the right person as we head into 2019 because his knowledge and experience is invaluable."
She added that the board plans to spend the year "celebrating all he has done not only for tourism but for the community."
Taylor said his priorities remain on preparing for a number of major tourism events headed to the Quad-Cities over the next few months, including the Missouri Valley Conference, Gathering of the Green, Small Business Government Contracting Symposium and the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative's annual meeting. "My focus will be on making sure those events are all successful because the Quad-Cities is known for successful events," he said.
Taylor, who has been with the bureau since 1990, began his tourism career as executive director of the Davenport Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of the area's bureaus that merged to create the Quad-Cities bureau. He joined the combined bureau July 1, 1990, as director of marketing and communications. He was appointed acting president and CEO in January 1998 after the sudden death of his predecessor Bruce Riley McDaniel.
In an statement, sent Thursday afternoon, Jensen-Valliere said Taylor "For almost three decades Joe has been a tremendous champion of the tourism industry in the Quad-Cities region... We will greatly miss him and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Taylor called it "his honor and a privilege" to lead the bureau. "I am extremely proud of what has been achieved during my tenure at the bureau," he said in the statement. "I want to thank the entire Quad-Cities, from the respective elected officials, city staff members, industry partners and bureau staff for making my journey at the bureau so wonderful."
His retirement announcement comes one month after Davenport was selected as the final host city stop for the 2018 Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI.