Grapevine CVB leader has left a legacy

When Paul W. McCallum moved to Grapevine in 1987, he recalls only two restaurants and a few fast food places in town. Grapevine only had about 2.2 million visitors, but McCallum could see its potential.

"The thing that made Grapevine appealing to me was that the elected leadership wanted to guide the growth and development of Grapevine," he said. "It had everything it needed to be the complete town. The small towns around it were quickly becoming bedroom communities, and Grapevine did not want to become a bedroom community."

Originally from the Australian outback, McCallum is known as "P. W." to his friends. He finds many similarities between Aussies and Texans: a love for the outdoors, a can-do attitude and hospitality. Whereas he previously worked as director at the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Melbourne, Australia, he has now lived in Texas for decades, even serving a six-year term as director of marketing for the Fort Worth CVB before starting in Grapevine.

During his 25 years as executive director of the Grapevine CVB, McCallum has helped to attract the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center and Great Wolf Lodge, both premiere attractions and major employers in Grapevine. He also helped bring Grapevine Mills mall, Bass Pro Outdoor World and more than a dozen other hotels to the city.

"Living in Grapevine, you are never going to be far from the best shopping, the best dining, the best entertainment, the best hotels," he said.

His legacy can be found in a list of annual festivals, including GrapeFest, which has grown into the largest wine festival in the Southwest since its inception in 1987.

"At first it really wasn't all that focused on being a wine-related event," he said. "And so then we took it to focus as a wine event, and that's when it really grew."

While attending the University of Houston, McCallum worked as a banquet waiter at the Shamrock Hotel. There, he realized conventions meant jobs for hotels and businesses. Grapevine now attracts more than 15 million visitors annually—giving McCallum a sense of accomplishment.

"The housekeepers in the hotel or the kitchen staff in a restaurant or the extra staff in a retail store—those people are working because of what we do," he said. "And that means a lot to me."

In September 2011, the Texas Travel Industry Association awarded McCallum the Tall in Texas Award, the highest honor for the state's travel and tourism industry. McCallum does not like to brag. Instead, he gives credit to his team, describing his role with words like "cheerleader" and "motivator."

McCallum will not reveal plans for the next big project, but he hints it will be his proudest to date if he can accomplish it. Meanwhile, he is excited to see the completion of the new, two-story CVB building and its animatronic clock that will feature glockenspiel cowboys dueling twice a day. Be warned, though, the rumors that one of the cowboys will sport an animatronic version of McCallum's distinctive beard—his trademark since 1970—are not true.

"The guys who are building it want to put a beard on one of them," he said, laughing, "and I won't let them."