by Alex Palmer | December 12, 2017
Milton Segarra is leaving his position as president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico to take over as CEO of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, it was announced yesterday. After overseeing Puerto Rico's convention and visitors bureau since 2013, Segarra will leave the position on Dec. 15. He will take on his new role of running the marketing for the meetings and conference offerings of Mississippi's Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties beginning Jan. 8, 2018.
"I have enjoyed my tenure at Meet Puerto Rico and am proud of all the work my team and I have accomplished here on behalf of my beautiful home," Segarra said, in a statement. "Leaving is bittersweet. However, I know I leave the meetings industry in good hands here with the future leadership of the DMO set to start in July 2018."

The move comes at an important moment for Meet Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Maria, with the Puerto Rico Convention Center expected to resume its full schedule of conventions next month. Segarra has been a tireless advocate for the destination's continued strength as a meetings destination through these difficulties, as well the outbreak of the Zika virus last year and the territory's declaration of bankruptcy earlier this year. 

"We always make sure that our clients, the media, and our members get the information from us," Segarra said at IMEX America in October, just days after Maria struck the island. "All that is happening in Puerto Rico, we will tell you. That's our commitment."

Beyond crisis management, Segarra helped develop a new business model for the DMO, launching a new digital marketing and social media campaign, among numerous other initiatives (including, most recently, a new incentive program to attract meeting planners to the destination).

In his new role, Segarra, who is also a member of the board of directors of Destinations International and serves on its Finance Committee, will be overseeing the marketing of the meetings offerings of the 14 coastal communities under Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. These include the 400,000-square-foot Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center and large-scale properties such as the 1,740-room Beau Rivage and 970-room Island View Casino Resort. 

"We took our time with the search to find the perfect candidate to bring the coast to the next level. Our Board is confident that Milton is indeed the best qualified person to accomplish the goals set forth in the GoCoast 2020 initiative," said Bill Holmes, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast board president.

In shifting into the new role, Segarra again struck a bittersweet note, saying that "The commitment, determination, and optimism I have experienced here has been one I will always cherish. Even though I will miss my colleagues, clients, and the company, I am looking forward to starting a new phase of my career."