PORTLAND — A former travel agency owner and current Vice President of AAA Northern New England has been appointed interim executive director of Portland’s Downtown District.

Steve Hewins will assume the post in August and remain until the agency can hire a permanent replacement for Jan Beitzer, who retired this summer.

Hewins founded Hewins Travel out of his Munjoy Hill home in 1982 before relocating the agency to Commercial Street. It grew to become Maine’s largest travel agency before he sold the agency to AAA in 2007.

“Steve Hewins is exceptionally qualified to lead Maine’s largest Downtown organization as we work through a nationwide search process for a new Executive Director,” said Brad McCurtain, President of the district’s Board of Directors.

McCurtain said Hewins is a candidate for the full time Executive Director position.

Portland’s Downtown District encompasses more than 600 properties and 400 businesses in an area that runs from Longfellow Square along Congress Street to Franklin Street and through the Old Port section of the city.