VISIT FLORIDA names Chris Thompson to Florida Tourism Hall of Fame

Christopher L. Thompson
Anna Maria Island, Ocala and Amelia Island organizations win top tourism marketing awards.

Christopher L. Thompson, a former longtime tourism and economic development promoter in Florida who took his talent to the federal level, was named to VISIT FLORIDA’s Florida Tourism Hall of Fame.

VISIT FLORIDA also announced its annual Flagler Awards recognizing top tourism and destination marketing campaigns throughout the state, with organizations in Anna Maria Island, Ocala and Amelia Island winning Best of Show awards in the various levels.

Since 2012, Thompson has been president and CEO of Brand USA, a public-private partnership created by the federal Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination.

Before that, Thompson had spent decades in various roles with the Florida Department of Commerce, the Leon County Tourist Development Council, the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, MarketServe and VISIT FLORIDA, where he served as president and CEO from 2009 to 2012.

He’s currently also on the board of Destinations International and is a member of the advisory board for the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida. Thompson has been a member of numerous national leadership boards, including for the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. Travel and Tourism Travel Marketing Executives, and the Tourism Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Miami Branch.

“Florida’s reputation as a world-renowned vacation destination is due in great measure to the tourism industry leaders who have paved the way for our success. Chris Thompson has not only been a pivotal force in Florida, but the U.S. travel industry as a whole. We are so thrilled to welcome Chris into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and we congratulate him on this incredible honor,” VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young said.

VISIT FLORIDA presented its Flagler Award, named for Henry Flagler, to recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida.

The Anna Maria Island Wedding Association won Best of Show in the level of organizations with marketing budgets of less than $500,000, for the association’s “Anna Maria Wedding Magazine.”

The Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau won in the level of organizations with marketing budgets between $500,000 and $2 million for its “Ocala National Forest — Florida’s Hidden Gem” campaign.

Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau won in the level of organizations with marketing budgets of more than $2 million for its Amelia Island meetings brochure.

The Anna Maria Island Wedding Association also won “Henrys” — tops in a specific tourism marketing category — for the state’s best consumer resource/promotional material and for the best trade resource/promotional material.

The Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau also won Henrys for mobile marketing and for social media marketing.

Other Henry winners included St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for creativity in public relations; Fort Myers — Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods for direct marketing; Florida Keys & Key West for internet advertising and for radio advertising; Destin-Fort Walton Beach Tourism for mixed media campaign, out-of-home marketing and for website; Visit Tampa Bay for niche marketing; Visit Lauderdale for print advertising and for special event; Visit Sebring for rural county marketing; and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for sustainable tourism marketing,

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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