Michele Saran has been named the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Explore Waterloo Region.
Saran comes to Waterloo Region after serving as the CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia. There she was focused on establishing strong relationships with industry stakeholders, making research-based decisions and leveraging local, regional and national partnership opportunities to support and grow Nova Scotia’s tourism economy. Prior to COVID-19, the province broke records for both revenue and visitation following the strategy which she worked to create. Under her leadership, the organization won national awards for both product development and media relations programming.
“This has been a time of unprecedented challenge in the tourism industry and I am looking forward to returning to Ontario and working with operators in Waterloo Region as we push toward recovery,” said Saran. “I’m excited by the region’s brand that celebrates the past and embraces the future. We will continue to leverage that brand as we work to grow leisure travel as well as meetings and sport tourism business.”
Saran replaces Minto Schneider, who is retiring from the organization after nine years in the role.
“Michele brings nearly three decades of tourism industry experience to Waterloo Region,” adds Tracy Van Kalsbeek, chair of the board of directors at Explore Waterloo Region. “We are excited to have her at the helm to help guide tourism in the Region out of what has been its most difficult two years ever.”
Prior to taking on the CEO role at Tourism Nova Scotia, Saran served seven years as the executive director of Business Events Canada (BEC), a specialized unit of Destination Canada. There she oversaw the development of a new brand identity and implemented a strategy that aligned with Canada’s private-sector trade and investment growth priorities to drive meetings and conventions to the country.