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Topic: The Sunshine State looks to the future

  1. #1
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    Default The Sunshine State looks to the future

    Taken from Travel Mole although I expect that Susan and Simon may know more.

    After the hiatus of a few years back it seems that things are going in the right direction again. Impressive to see numbers are holding up, and interesting to see the bit about Branson/Virgin involvement in the new train service.

    New Visit Florida CEO Dana Young was at Florida Huddle in Daytona Beach, this week, where she caught up with TravelMole managing director Graham McKenzie

    Two years ago, the bottom fell out of the Visit Florida world when in a whirl of resignations, dismissals, political shenanigans and general chaos, the very existence of the state tourism board was threatened.

    Funding was reduced severely and, at the same time, many of the organisation's key destination partners decided they would no longer work with the tourism body.

    Times have changed and, while a week is a long time in politics, two years in tourism is an age.

    The Sunshine State starts 2019 on a positive footing, recording 95.8 million visitors arrivals between January and September 2018.

    For the whole of 2017, Florida welcomed 118.8 million visitors, who spent $112 billion and supported 1.4 million jobs.

    The overall international market share remained strong with more than 25% of international visitors to the U.S. landing in Florida.

    The start of 2019 does see more change with the appointment of a new CEO Dana Young.

    The state's first-ever female head of tourism, she brings with her an environmental legal background, which will be well suited to the challenges ahead as the state struggles with issues of water quality and the challenges of the red tide and algae - both of which affected adversely many resorts especially those in the southern part of the Gulf Coast last summer.

    Speaking exclusively to TravelMole, Ms Young said the environment is one of her top priorities and that, working closely with the new Governor, Ron de Santis, she was excited at the prospect of achieving progress.

    Water quality is not, however, the only short-term goal. Persuading destination partners, such as Miami, Orlando and Kissimmee, lost two years ago, to come back into the fold is also high on the to-do list.

    One of the first things she did was to call all those partners personally to arrange meetings to see if reunification is possible.

    Young is also delighted with the news that Sir Richard Branson is now the new partner and shareholder of the much-anticipated and long-vaunted Brightline train, which runs services between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

    Now called Virgin Trains USA, the plans are to extend the line to Orlando and eventually to Tampa.

    It's a new facility for both residents and visitors that will only serve to enhance the environmental feel good factor over the next era of tourism in Florida.
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    Things have been fraught, but it DOES seem Dana Young could put Florida on the right track again, so that's very hopeful.

    The interview wasn't "exclusive" to TravelMole (it was given during Huddle and there were 20 journalists in the room!), and Simon's typing furiously right now, doing a piece for the Telegraph on Ms Young's comments.

    We watch with great interest and cautious hope!

    Editing to add: We're absolutely gobsmacked at DeSantis's comments. Can't believe there's a Republican who is willing to admit to climate change at all, let alone do something about it! YAY!!! The proof is in the pudding, but wow...that's extremely interesting, if he follows through, and good for the whole state!
    Last edited by Susan Veness; 14-01-2019 at 07:33 PM.











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    And here's our story for the Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/d...ed-tide-algae/

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    Great article, it will be interesting to see if they follow through, mind you that is a big budget.

    When we visited Shark Valley in the Everglades in 2005 the Rangers were bemoaning the slowing water flows caused by the draw off for human use and the impact it was having then on the glades.

    Also interesting to read that Dana Young comes from Cedar Key which is a quirky little place unfortunately run down in some parts (which is a shame). Would it be parochial of her to push some development $$ that way?
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    I suspect she may be interested to push some development dollars in the direction of a number of places like Cedar Key, as they definitely have great tourist potential (Cedar Key also suffered from Hurricane Michael last year, unfortunately).

    The problem with the Everglades is also a long-standing one from more than 100 years of mis-use. There IS a plan in place to create a reservoir below Lake Okeechobee that would help to restore the flow, but it is going to take years to implement and take effect, but it IS part of the $2.5billion that the governor has ear-marked for environmental use.

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