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VISIT FLORIDA Invites the World to Help Commemorate the State’s 500th Anniversary

By on April 30th, 2013 — 3:15pm

While Viva Florida 500 is a year-long commemoration of the discovery of the Sunshine State by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and his crew, April marks the celebration’s biggest push.  To kick things off, VISIT FLORIDA participated in a press conference hosted by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on April 2 to coincide with the actual anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing.  One of the big announcements was the impending arrival of El Galeón, a replica of Spanish ships from 500 years ago, that would be sailing from Spain to Puerto Rico and on to four ports of call in Florida.

To make this tour of Florida a reality, four industry Partners collaborated with VISIT FLORIDA and the Nao Victoria Foundation in hosting the ship with ports of call between April 15 and June 3 at Bay Front Park in Miami, The Cove at Port Canaveral, the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, and the City Marina in St. Augustine.

While El Galeón was safely moored in Miami, VISIT FLORIDA arranged an opportunity for our Florida tourism Partners to engage with Hispanic media during a reception hosted on board the vessel the evening of April 24.  With the support of  The Rodriguez Group, VISIT FLORIDA’s Hispanic agency of record, the event provided networking time for Partners with producers from  the Telemundo and  Univision networks, media representatives with Despierta America – a Univision network morning show, and contributors to Diario de Las Americas, Agencia EFE (AP for the Hispanic market) and El Herald in Miami.  VISIT FLORIDA’s Viva Florida Insider, Patricia Pena, was able to conduct interviews with the media throughout the event.  Patricia is also currently blogging from the ship as it sails on to Cape Canaveral.

VISIT FLORIDA is grateful for the support of those who joined us in hosting the media reception, especially Glenn Hastings, Executive Director of the St. Johns County TDC and Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; Cristina Barrios, Spanish Consul General; Bill Talbert, President of the Greater Miami CVB; historian Frank de Varona; Eduardo Almagro, General Manager of the Nao Victoria Foundation.  VISIT FLORIDA appreciates the support of the industry Partners who were in attendance, including the four ports of call hosts: the Greater Miami CVB, the Space Coast Office of Tourism, the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation, the St. Johns County TDC and St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra VCB, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, as well as additional Partners from Paradise Coast and Visit Orlando.

To alert visitors of the ship’s coming arrival and the opportunities available to tour the vessel while in port, VISIT FLORIDA and the St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra VCB worked together to host a satellite media tour (SMT) from Flagler College on April 4.  The SMT positioned Viva Florida 500 as an invitation for consumers to bridge from history to the modern day Florida vacation experience.  The SMT also served to introduce a national audience to Ponce de Leon as the Sunshine State’s first tourist, while inviting future visitors to be the state’s new explorers.

Two pairs of talent hosts broadcast for English and Spanish audiences.  The talents for the English-language stations were VISIT FLORIDA Entertainment & LuxuryInsider Kara Franker, and historic re-enactor Chad Light, portraying Ponce de Leon.  Maria D’Adamo, a travel guide and editor of Eco Latino magazine, and Father Gilbert Medina, portraying a Diocene priest, were the talents for the Spanish-language stations.  Throughout the live television and radio broadcasts, the talents shared key messages that included details on Florida’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary, the 500 Years of Adventure Sweepstakes offering exclusive vacation packages weekly in destinations throughout the state, the visit of El Galeón at four Florida ports, and the new VISITFLORIDA.com website

The Viva Florida 500 SMT was incredibly successful, reaching more than 4.1 million viewers and listeners nationwide through a combination of 20 broadcast and radio segments.  In addition, VISIT FLORIDA’s Content team commissioned a story by Carlos Harrison for VISITFLORIDA.com and the PR Department assisted in promoting the ship’s tour through a digital media release.

Perhaps known best for our beautiful beaches and exciting theme parks, the Viva Florida 500 commemoration is providing the Florida tourism industry with an historic opportunity to expand travelers’ perceptions of the state.  By offering visitors a whole new reason to explore the Sunshine State in 2013 with events such as the arrival of El Galeón, we are continuing to increase the economic impact of travelers to Florida.


Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning
Public Relations Manager
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