Tuesday,  March 21, 2023  1:05 pm

Surprise! Travel industry wishes Ruth Williamson a happy retirement

Surprise! Travel industry wishes Ruth Williamson a happy retirement
SURPRISE! Ruth Williamson arrives at her surprise retirement party at VoX International's headquarters in Toronto.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

As far as surprise parties go, it was one for the books.

Representatives from all corners of the travel industry gathered at VoX International’s bright and modern office space yesterday afternoon (July 18th) in honour of longtime collaborator Ruth Williamson, who recently announced her retirement from the U.S. Commercial Services. Ruth Williamson (left) & Susan Webb (right) at VoX International's Toronto headquarters.

The luncheon was a surprise party organized by VoX president and founder Susan Webb, who also serves as president of Discover America Canada.

“Ruth is such an integral part of our association,” Webb told PAX at the party. “She’s the one that gets all the journalists and product buyers to IPW every year. She really helps us with any government issues related to us promoting travel to the U.S. from Canada.”

Webb said that when she and her team found out that Williamson was retiring “we were in shock because we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and tell her how much she’s meant to the industry and how much we love her.”From left: Seaworld's Randy Anger; Access Marketing's Joanne Scalamogna; TravelBrands' Elvi Cal; VoX International's Susan Webb.So Webb invited Williamson out for a one-on-one lunch, secretly withholding the fact that she was also inviting some pivotal travel partners that have worked with Williamson over the years.

From left: Travel Solutions by Design's Kimberly Hartley; Air Canada's Simona Cercel; ACV's Nancy Jeronimo

When Williamson arrived at VoX headquarters, she was met by more than two dozen industry pros, who greeted her with a loud and sounding: “Surprise!!”From left: Brand USA's Colin Skerritt; VoX International's Lorenzo Campos; Visit Rochester's Gregory Marshall.The moment left Williamson taken back, humbled and amazed.

“This is a wonderful surprise. It’s been very special working with you all!” an elated Williamson told the crowd.

An illustrious career 

Williamson worked with many sectors throughout her time at the U.S. Commercial Services. In addition to travel, she also oversaw projects that involved the entertainment, construction and franchising industries.

She calls the travel and tourism industry “the most exciting, positive, and dynamic sector.”

“It’s been such a pleasure working with each and everyone one of you, seeing how various opportunities can develop for you all. I’ve just been so thrilled to do this,” Williamson told guests before cutting into a customized happy retirement cake. “You’re a wonderful group of people.”

As for her retirement plans, Williamson said that she’s, so far, been travelling to Montreal to visit friends and family, and has plans to visit the U.S. in the near future.

"“I’m up for other adventures now!”" Ruth Williamson told PAX at yesterday's surprise party.

“I’m up for other adventures now!” she told PAX.

Webb was “thrilled” that she and her industry colleagues were able to surprise Williamson and wish her good luck.

“I hope she gets to enjoy some wonderful downtime, some great travel, and time with her husband. If she gets back into this crazy business, we’ll all be here to support her,” Webb told PAX. “She’s professional, she’s passionate about her job. She’s just lovely. Everyone who meets her feels warmth from her.”

“She’s been a delight to work with and we’re really going to miss her," said Webb. 

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!