Executive director of Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau to retire this month

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Diane Schostak will retire as executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau on July 25, ending eight years of helping to market the region to the world.

“It's kind of hard to leave. I've been part of an evolving industry,” she said.

However, health issues have forced her to step back and take more time to take care of herself and spend time with family, she said.

Schostak, 59, also plans to resign from the board of the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop Association and the Washington Tourism Alliance Board, the fledgling nonprofit replacement for the Washington State Tourism Office.

Marsha Massey, who served as the director of the now-defunct Washington State Tourism Office from February 2007 to March 2011, will serve as interim executive director of the visitor bureau.

Massey said she expects to serve for about six months while a permanent replacement is sought by the bureau's board of directors.

Worked together

Schostak and Massey have worked together in the past during Massey's final four years at the state office and Schostak's first four years in Port Angeles.

Massey said that provided her with a working start on knowing the needs for the Peninsula.

Massey, who lives in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, plans to spend part of her time working from there and part working in Port Angeles or other locations on the Peninsula, meeting with the visitor bureau's travel partners.

She hasn't had much professional reason to visit the Peninsula, she said, but still finds reasons to make the drive.

“It's a personal favorite of mine,” she said.

However, she said, she doesn't have the background in the region to match Schostak's history and knowledge of the Peninsula.

“Diane has done such an outstanding job. She is also a key player at the state level,” Massey said.

The visitor bureau is funded primarily by lodging tax collected in unincorporated Clallam County.

The organization provides promotions and tourism support for Clallam County and administrative support for the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission, a 13-partner group comprised of Chambers of Commerce and tourism marketing entities from the Mason County to Quinault via Highway 101.

Deep roots

Schostak's roots in the Peninsula go back to the pioneer era in the Hoh River area, and she doesn't plan to leave the area.

“I've been in the tourism industry since 1991,” she said.

In 1997, she took over as director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce.

In May 2006, she was hired as the executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau.

Since 2006, tourism revenue has increased 15 percent in Clallam County, even through the 2008-09 economic crash and the following recession, Schostak said.

She said she believes that people staying closer to home and the Peninsula's reputation as a local getaway have served the region well.

She noted that all of the Peninsula's communities are served by a single road, the looping U.S. Highway 101.

“It's like pearls on a string,” she said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 09. 2014 5:54PM
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