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Week Two Message from VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO

By on January 25th, 2017 — 2:37pm

Today marks two weeks on the job as President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA and I wanted to take this opportunity to share an update on our efforts to date.

In addition to bringing David Wilkins on as a consultant to review our policies and procedures, we have also posted job openings for a General Counsel, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer.  We will be accepting applications through Feb. 5 and hope to have the positions filled as soon as possible.

I am continuing to hold one-on-one meetings with VISIT FLORIDA staff to learn more about their roles and to hear their ideas as we move forward.  I am grateful to each of them for helping me get my feet on the ground and I am incredibly impressed with the level of talent and commitment they bring to their positions.

As part of our continuing response to Governor Scott’s letter recommending additional transparency and accountability measures, I am happy to share that the following actions are either completed or well underway:

  • Developed a standardized process of identifying and posting public records, including:
    • Posted employee salaries online
    • Posted organizational chart online
    • Posted more than 640 contracts online (with more being added each week)
    • Posted audits and annual tax return
    • Posted annual performance measures
  • Updated the audit policy to include a more frequent auditor rotation and are in the process of hiring a new firm now
  • Revised the corporate travel policy to be in line with state standards and activated the new policy on January 1

Last, but certainly not least, I am pleased to share with you that today we announced the release of Tourism Economics’ Economic Impact of Out-of-State Visitor Spending in Florida study.  This study offers a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of the true economic impact of visitor spending in our state and the findings clearly demonstrate that tourism is driving the growth of Florida’s economy.

A few key findings from the study include:

  • Out-of-state visitor spending in Florida reached $108.8 billion in 2015, an increase of 3.9 percent over the previous year
  • On average, out-of-state visitors spend $300 million per day in Florida
  • In the absence of the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Florida household would need to pay $1,535 to maintain the current level of government services
  • Out-of-state visitor spending supported 1.4 million Florida jobs in 2015, with an associated income of $50.7 billion

To view the study in full, please click here.  To read the press release, please click here.

These are exciting times for VISIT FLORIDA and the entire Florida tourism industry with tremendous momentum behind us and a great deal to look forward to.  As we work together to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world, please know that I value your input and suggestions, and hope you will feel free to reach out to me at klawson@visitflorida.org.


Ken Lawson
President & CEO
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