Patrick Kaler, the president and chief executive of Visit Loudoun, the Loudoun Convention and Tourism Association, announced Wednesday that he is leaving the organization at the end of the year.
Kaler told Visit Loudoun’s board of directors about his resignation Wednesday. He will begin a new role Jan. 6 as president and chief executive of Visit Buffalo Niagara, representing Erie County, N.Y.
He has served as the head of Visit Loudoun since March 2011, taking over after the departure of former president Cheryl Kilday, who had led the organization for 15 years.
“Loudoun has been a wonderful home for nearly three years, and I am proud of the many Visit Loudoun successes during that time,” Kaler said in a resignation letter addressed to Beth Erickson, chairman of the Visit Loudoun board.
During Kaler’s tenure, the organization has continued its efforts to expand Loudoun’s tourism industry. He presided over an award-winning online TV series, titled “Get Lost in Loudoun,” and got coverage for the county in a 2012 edition of Wine Enthusiast Magazine that featured a top 10 list of wine travel destinations.
He also oversaw the inaugural Epicurience Virginia wine and culinary festival over Labor Day weekend, a three-day festival that drew more than 1,200 visitors to wine and food-themed events in Loudoun.
The festival was designed to build on Loudoun’s self-branding as “D.C.’s Wine Country.” With more wineries than any other county in the state — accounting for the majority of about $5 million in annual beverage manufacturing sales — Loudoun’s growing wine market has become the heart of its tourism industry.
Erickson said in a statement that she and her fellow board members took pride in Kaler’s accomplishments, calling him “an incredible asset for Loudoun County as well as a dear friend and colleague.”
The board’s executive committee will meet this week to discuss a search for a new president, as well as plans for interim leadership, officials said.