Astleford, 66, replaces Kerri Stewart, senior vice president at Infinity Global Solutions. Stewart served as interim president and CEO after Daniel O'Byrne was released from his contract in December 2011.
Astleford served as Experience Columbus president and CEO for the past 13 years and in late August announced his retirement. He said he then received a call from the search committee for Visit Jacksonville.
Experience Columbus serves as the convention and visitors bureau for Columbus, Ohio.
He said he already had considered Northeast Florida as a possible retirement location and called the Visit Jacksonville position an opportunity he could not pass up.
"I got the call and it feels kind of like destiny," he said. "It has worked out so incredibly well."
He said he was attracted by Jacksonville's potential and location and would use his 42 years of experience to lead the organization's mission.
In addition to Experience Columbus, Astleford also said he has served as CEO of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and served with Hyatt Hotels.
Visit Jacksonville serves as the official destination marketing organization of Jacksonville. Its goal is to create visitor demand that results in measurable economic growth for business partners and overall area quality of life, according to its website.
Astleford said he would spend time learning about the city's structure and leadership, including meeting with City Council members and the mayor, before forming a strategy.
He said he planned to combine that strategy with his industry experience to bring more visitors to Jacksonville and increasing economic development.
Former Experience Columbus President and CEO Paul Astleford has been named Visit Jacksonville president and CEO, a position he began Monday.