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Visit Florida's Dana Young was in Israel with Gov. Ron DeSantis.


Tourism agency workshops strategic plan changes

VISIT FLORIDA is refining strategic documents.

VISIT FLORIDA, the state tourism agency, discussed on Monday some language changes in planning documents slated to be approved by the full board this week.

The conference call that sounded like something from smoother economic times, with lots of aspirational rhetoric about “the #1 travel destination in the world” and the like.

One exception was at the end, when CEO Dana Young remarked on the challenges faced by the VISIT FLORIDA team as they crafted the document, an allusion to the COVID-19 driven erosion of the tourism economy.

COO Craig Thomas noted that “industry insights” were used to refine the final “industrywide vision” product, ahead of committee approval Tuesday and approval by the full board Wednesday.

Among those changes: language addressing the correlation between a flourishing tourism sector and quality of life issues.

“The quality of life idea would be one of the most significant changes we’re making,” Thomas said about the mission statement.

There will be some flexibility given the diversity of the industry.

“Once you get to this quality of life mission, as you go further down into goals and objectives, it would be  … challenging to get those spot on uniformly applicable to all these stakeholders,” Thomas remarked.

Going forward, more industry collaboration is sought, as well as an affirmation of the connection between success of the tourism industry and quality of life.

“Florida’s one of the top destinations in the world and we want to stay on top” was one insight that stayed the same.

Thomas noted that the industry has “proven our resiliency time and time again,” saying that the industry has “overcome obstacles.”

“Some of the things we have to overcome have to do with the Legislature,” remarked one participant on the call, a nod to the parlous budget process in recent years.

However, at least for the next three years, House and Senate leaders agree to keep the agency going.

Also discussed: a desire for “synergy” with partners, including “refining our role” to “make the biggest impact at the state level,” and ways to word concepts like “facilitating conversations.”

The language on how to achieve synergy is a work in progress, given the “dynamic situation” the agency is in, Thomas said.

“You might be in a really good place for the time being,” but things “evolve and change.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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