Switzerland Tourism (ST) has announced the promotion of Divine Bonga to head of media and communications North America starting September 1, 2021.
In her new role Bonga will be managing the communications strategy for the Swiss national tourism board and lead a team of media professionals in New York, San Francisco, and Toronto.
Bonga is succeeding Ursula Beamish-Mader, who has been leading the North American media department for Swiss Tourism for the last decade and additionally has been managing the media relations in Canada for over thirty years.
"She has been instrumental to the Canadian market and its steady growth of visitors to Switzerland," the tourism board said in a release on Thursday (Aug. 19).
Beamish-Mader has decided to enjoy early retirement as of mid-September.
“I love the travel industry and this career has allowed me to collaborate with talented, hardworking, and creative people – many of these working relationships morphing over the years into friendships. I’m excited to have more time to discover and experience our wonderful planet and my first trip will take me backcountry canoeing in the Sault Ste. Marie area of Canada during the fall colours," said Beamish-Mader.
An outdoor, in-person retirement party for Beamish-Mader was held in Toronto last week, bringing together partners from all corners of the industry.
“With Ursula’s departure we lose a stalwart of the Swiss tourism industry whose contributions have made a huge impact to the success of Switzerland in North America. I can’t thank her enough for her service with Switzerland Tourism and wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement,” said Claudio Zemp, Director Americas of Switzerland Tourism.
Divine joined Switzerland Tourism in June 2019, and since then, she has served as Media Relations Manager Eastern USA based out of the New York office.
Furthermore, she has been managing media relations on an interim basis with mid-west and Texas-based journalists over the last nine months.
In her new role she will be responsible for hiring a new team of media professionals across North American as well as developing the communications strategy to increase the presence of Switzerland as a leading destination for North American travellers.
Divine will report directly to Mr. Zemp, who said that he is "so excited that with Divine Bonga, we will have a highly talented and driven PR professional at the helm of our media and communications team in North America."
"At a time when both the travel and media industries are emerging from the pandemic battlefield, Divine will be instrumental in positioning the holiday destination Switzerland in the US and Canada in this new era of travel," Zemp said.
Bonga brings extensive international experience with a decade in the lifestyle and luxury industries.
Prior to joining ST, Divine worked for the luxury brand Montblanc and the Swiss watchmaker Swatch.
She holds a master’s degree of Science in Communications Management from the Università della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano (Switzerland).
She grew up in Geneva and having lived in Bern, Zurich, and Lugano, is proficient in English, German, French and Spanish.
“It’s a privilege to take over this position and lead the communications strategy for Switzerland Tourism in the North American market, a region where media platforms are very influential with a global reach. I am thrilled to further develop relations with existing and new media contacts alike and create opportunities to showcase our multifaced destination," said Bonga.
"Working for this great organization over the last two years has been incredibly exciting and I am looking forward to further contributing to the success of Swiss Tourism.”
As part of the new team, Laura Fairweather will be assuming the role of Media Relations Project Manager Canada, based in Toronto.
Laura will focus on the Canadian and Greater Chicago area-based media markets starting Aug. 26.
A strategic and creative industry connector, Fairweather has been practising PR for 25 years in the luxury hospitality industry for Four Season Hotels and Resorts as well as for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
No stranger to destination marketing, Fairweather's extensive tourism industry background includes four years at the Canadian Tourism Commission.