22 JUL 2019: In this job we run into a great many people, the vast majority of whom are professional, pleasant and helpful. Then you have the few who stand out from the rest. Ruth Williamson is one of that special minority. When VoX International’s president Susan Webb, learned that Williamson was retiring, from the US Commercial Services, she couldn’t let the occasion go unobserved.

Webb, who is also the current president of Discover America Canada, and has worked closely with Ruth for years, invited her to lunch at VoX’s spiffy new offices in downtown Toronto and then secretly arranged a surprise retirement party with a group of longtime friends and colleagues, including members of Discover America, travel partners and media who knew and had worked with Ruth over the years.

Somehow in this time of leaks, it managed to stay under wraps - take a look at the pictures of Ruth as she walked into the VoX offices to a robust shout of “Surprise!”

“This is a wonderful surprise,” she said when she regained her composure, “It’s been very special working with you all.”

At US Commercial Services, Ruth was responsible for Travel and Tourism, and Entertainment (Film, Music). This was her second stint at CS - she was with them earlier on a contract and in between worked with Jeffrey “J.J.” Johnson, at the State of Illinois Canada Office, as an International Trade Specialist, where her responsibilities included travel and tourism, foreign direct investment, and international trade.

She returned to US Commercial Services in 2008. She was also appointed International Advisory Committee (IAC) Chair by the US Travel Association in Washington, representing Canada for IPW (International Pow Wow).

Ruth also ran a marketing consulting firm for over 10 years serving major national and Fortune 500 companies and also sidelined as a freelance journalist covering travel and tourism, sports events, and a winter Olympics.

No wonder us media types love her. Not only was she always patient with requests and willing to help – she actually ‘got’ what we needed and tried to make it happen.

But back to the party - it was a lovely afternoon, lots of conversation, reminiscing, hugs and lots to eat and drink, followed by a special retirement cake.

Ruth called travel and tourism “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,” she said.

“You’re a wonderful group of people.”

Webb said the retirement announcement was so sudden, and surprising she wanted to do something to thank Ruth, and show her how much she’s appreciated, and how much she means to those of us who have worked with her.

“We all love Ruth,” said Webb, “she’s been a delight to work with and we’re really going to miss her," adding to laughter, “and she has the best hair in the industry!”

She really does – it’s always just perfect.

“What’s next?" we asked Ruth.

Well, since her retirement a few weeks ago, she’s taken a trip to visit friends and family in Montreal, and has plans to do a bit more travelling.

But, no surprise, Ruth Williamson is not one to rest on her laurels, “New adventures! I’m ready for new adventures!” She says with a laugh.

Enjoy your adventures, Ruth.

Thank you for your friendship, for making our work a little easier, and for always being such a bright and positive influence. We will miss you.


Ruth Williamson's Retirement Party, 18 July 2019
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Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor in chief of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

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