John Kelsh

John Kelsh


John Kelsh has a lifelong passion for travel, tourism and helping destinations “Get on the map.” He is the CEO of the branding and tourism development consulting firm, Great Destination Strategies, LLC, which has assisted clients from Alaska to Abu Dhabi, Australia to Alberta. Recent clients include Gulf Shores, AL, Terrebonne Parish, LA, Russian River, CA and Southeast Alaska.

John’s long and varied experience has cross-trained him in all of the important disciplines needed for successful development and promotion of destinations.  John was the first student intern with the United States Travel Service at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  He organized and managed the Hawaii State Tourism Office for four years and designed Hawaii’s first comprehensive statewide tourism development plan while still in his twenties. Later, John was advertising supervisor for several iconic destinations, including Hawaii, Maui, Alaska, Samoa and Fiji, and was an early marketing consultant to the People’s Republic of China.

John developed a special interest in market research, designing groundbreaking travel research for the State of Hawaii, the State of Alaska, and the Australian Tourist Commission.  He has broad experience in cruise marketing, and cruise destination development and has consulted with three major cruise lines.

John worked with Destination Development International for three years, during which time he contributed to the development of branding, product and marketing plans for Ottawa, Illinois; Rapid City, South Dakota; Battle Creek, Michigan; Conroe, Salado and Marshall, Texas; Rock Springs, Wyoming; Moses Lake, Washington; Pittsburg, Turlock and Stockton, California; Pendleton, Oregon; Enumclaw, Monroe and Mason County, Washington.

John received his Bachelors of Science degree in Transportation, Travel and Tourism at Niagara University and a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Hawaii. John has been a speaker on variety of destination subjects in Asia, the U.S. and the Pacific Basin, and has taught at the School of Travel Industry Management, University of Hawaii.