Terry Brown led the San Diego Tourism Marketing District as its first board chair and continuously served as a director until his passing in July 2023. In September 2023, our board elected to recognize his lasting legacy to the SDTMD by conferring Terry with the Director Emeritus title ensuring that his enormous contributions are permanently memorialized.
Please take a moment to read the remembrances and tributes from those who worked closely with Terry on the San Diego Tourism Marketing District board.
The Foremost Legacy Hotelier
Tourism in San Diego would not be where it is today without the long service and enormous contributions of our late vice-chairman and founding board member C. Terry Brown.
Through his thoughtful and steady stewardship of tourism marketing grants, Terry helped maintain a healthy local tourism industry and supported many thousands of local livelihoods and career opportunities. We are so honored that he gave so much of his time and caring to our industry. Terry has also been a generous champion of the next generation of San Diego hospitality leaders through his philanthropic support of SDSU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program. And, as president and CEO of Atlas Hotels, Terry’s impact has been equally impressive. Under his leadership, the Town and Country evolved from a modest motor inn to a thriving resort and conference center providing employment and careers to so many San Diegan hospitality professionals as well as happy memories for visitors.
Even prior to the SDMTD, Terry was involved in the formation of so many events and attractions that we all take for granted today, from the Holiday Bowl to the USS Midway Museum.
Terry has been a beloved member of our board since its 2008 inception, mentoring many of us throughout the years. As our first board chair, serving in that capacity for many years, we have all relied upon his wisdom, leadership and vision for these past 15 years. In spite all of his accomplishments, Terry was always humble, modest and understated. He served because he cared and was truly passionate about hospitality, tourism and San Diego.
Terry was the foremost legacy hotelier in San Diego for over 50 years. Our sincerest condolences go out to Terry’s family, all of his friends and many industry colleagues during this sad time. He will be deeply missed.
Board Chair & President, Bartell Hotels
A Generous Leader
I met Terry shortly after moving to San Diego in 1991 to open the Hyatt Regency San Diego (now the Manchester Grand Hyatt). As someone coming to open a new competing convention hotel I wasn’t sure of the reception I would receive when I first met Terry. Not surprisingly he saw the new hotel as another step in furthering the growth of tourism in San Diego. That to me was the essence of Terry. “What can I do to better the industry?’’ was ingrained in his DNA. His approach was to always put self-benefit aside for the betterment of the industry as a whole.
His vocal support for the original Convention Center, the initial expansion and proposed future expansion are great examples. No longer the HQ hotel for large conventions he none the less was always a driving force in ensuring San Diego had the infrastructure to accommodate tourism and the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow to San Diego annually. Although Terry’s business was frequently not the primary beneficiary from the many initiatives he passionately supported, if it was good for Tourism and in turn the community, he as was all in.
Looking back to the mid 2000’s it was time to make a bold move to ensure San Diego Tourism marketing was continually funded. Terry was a driver helping to create what would become the engine powering San Diego’s third largest economic contributor. San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District achieved first mover advantage over the competition. Terry then led the organization for many years as Board Chair. His impact on the economic benefit to San Diego is in the billions of dollars.
Thanks to Terry and the other founding fathers, our TMD model has been widely replicated across the country. More than 10 years after its founding it was the driver for to San Diego to emerge from COVID with funding to market our destination when others did not have the resources to do so. As a result, our market recovered faster, widely outperformed the competition and accelerated the recovery of an industry decimated by COVID.
Quite simply Terry devoted his professional life to making San Diego Tourism better for everyone in our community. As a community we are better for having him play a major role in driving the benefits of tourism to our destination.
SDTMD Director & San Diego Hotelier/Consultant
The Architect of the SDTMD
I recall feeling quite intimidated before meeting with Terry the first time. He was a hotel legend and I was a relatively new GM hoping to join the TMD Board. Rather than intimidating, I found the exact opposite. He was understated, kind, always spot on with his insights and had a great sense of humor. San Diego’s hotel industry owes so much to Terry for his tremendous commitment. He was the architect of the SDTMD and put Mission Valley on the map. He will be sorely missed.
One of the Great Giants of the Industry
Founder, passionate, community, and leader are a few words that come to mind when I hear the name Terry Brown. His dedication to the lodging industry, its people and expanding its impact will be felt for generations to come. He was always willing to be there when needed and personally sat with me as a mentor. He will forever be one of the great giants in our industry and he will be sorely missed.