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Tom Noonan, who led Visit Baltimore since 2007, has resigned to accept a similar position in Austin, returning to his roots in Texas.

Noonan's departure was announced Wednesday by John Frisch, chairman of the Baltimore Convention and Tourism Board of Directors. Ron Melton, Visit Baltimore's chief operating officer, will serve as interim president and CEO while a national search is conducted.

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"It is a bittersweet moment for me and my family as we leave Baltimore to return home to Texas," Noonan said in a statement. "The Mid-Atlantic has become a second home for me and I am proud of what the team at Visit Baltimore has accomplished, especially in this last year."

In 2015, Visit Baltimore hosted 30 large conventions requiring more than 1,200 rooms on peak night, setting a record. And it continued to book more despite the unrest the city experienced last year after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody, including the 2016 National Urban League Annual Conference and the NAACP National Convention in 2017.

Under his leadership, the bureau promoted a number of key events that brought a large number of people to the city, including the short-lived Grand Prix of Baltimore, Sailabration, the Star-Spangled Spectacular and the launch of Light City Baltimore this year.

"The convention and tourism industry is a key economic driver for Baltimore and under Tom's leadership both have grown significantly," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

Before joining Visit Baltimore in 2007, Noonan worked 18 years for with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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