Experience Kissimmee’s COO Interviewed in New Magazine

The Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida has teamed up with Research Features to produce a new magazine for the hospitality and tourism industry, and the first edition of Rosen Research Review has an informative interview with Experience Kissimmee COO Misty Johantgen, CDME. Johantgen shares her perspectives on how DMOs are adapting to the increasingly internet-led industry and how new research is informing marketing strategies. Search online for Rosen Research Review and see page 34 for the interview.


Gov. DeSantis Announces Florida’s All-Time Record First Quarter 

Governor Ron DeSantis announced on May 15 that Florida broke an all-time record for visitation during the first quarter of 2019 with 35.7 million people visiting the Sunshine State from January to March. This is a 5.8% increase from the first quarter of 2018.

“An all-time record quarter of visitation is exciting news for the entire state,” says Governor DeSantis. “As we work to diversify Florida’s economy, it is critical that we keep visitation to Florida, and the revenue it generates, healthy and robust. VISIT FLORIDA plays an important role in this goal, and we will continue to support their work on behalf of Florida and our hardworking taxpayers.”


Space Coast’s Bonnie King Retires After 32 Years

It was a great run. As deputy director of tourism and film commissioner for Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism, Bonnie King ends a three-decades-long career in the tourism business.

King will retire on June 30, 2019. In her roles over the years, she has served and assisted with marketing and public relations; tour and travel; and wore the hat of film commissioner, promoting the area as a destination for film and TV productions. She will leave the Office of Tourism after successfully seeing that the Space Coast has been selected as the location for the new TV show The Right Stuff.King was the first to be hired on staff to support the director of tourism as marketing specialist when the Office of Tourism opened in October 1987. During her tenure, as directors came and moved on, she served as interim director until a new one was found.

“It was never my intention to stay and be the director,” Bonnie says, “because I knew I would not be able to have my hand in as many pies as I do in my role as deputy director. It has served me well.”

King has participated in DF, committees of VISIT FLORIDA, National Tour Association and American Bus Association; serves as president of Film Florida, a not-for-profit association providing a leadership role in Florida’s Film, TV and digital media industry; is the liaison with her four local chambers of commerce; and serves as associate member on the boards for the local Cocoa Beach Hotel Motel Association and the Space Coast Chapter of the Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“I have always worked hard with the many members of our tourism and business community to stimulate tourism growth in order to produce economic benefits,” Bonnie says. “Hard to believe I will wake up on the morning of July 1 and then turn over and go back to sleep.”


New Roles for Zimmerman, Duncan at Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing

Two longtime Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing managers have accepted new positions within the organization. Marc Zimmerman, formerly the senior sales events manager, has a new focus as senior economic development manager. Zimmerman’s new duties include recruiting and developing PCTSM’s major capital development projects as well as infrastructure related to the tourism and sports industry. He will also have divisional fiscal oversight. Neal Duncan, who was the senior business development manager, is taking over Zimmerman’s old role. Duncan is now responsible for overseeing sports event recruiting, management and promotion of more than 260 events annually.;


Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach VCB Welcomes Director Wendie Vestfall

Charlotte County’s new tourism development director comes to her position with almost three decades of marketing experience as well as years of familiarity with and affection for all that her new home has to offer visitors and residents alike.

“My affection for the area stems from having visited family that has lived in the region for years. My parents have a house in Punta Gorda, so this is not an area new to me,” Wendie shares. “My uncle also has been in the Punta Gorda/Cape Coral area since the 70s.”

Prior to relocating to Charlotte County, Vestfall was president of Kent County Tourism in Dover, Delaware, a destination similar to Charlotte County in terms of population, quaint ambiance and bountiful access to water activities. Vestfall commented that her relocation was timely and revealed a major difference between the two locales, having started her new job on February 20.

“When we moved down here, we left in a pretty major snowstorm,” Wendie laughs. “So it was really nice as we moved closer to the Florida border to see the sunshine and the warm weather.”

Along with sunny skies and balmy temperatures, Vestfall says she inherited a marketing campaign called Beach Ready, which she is continuing now that last year’s red tide crisis is over. And the new director was out in the community scouting video locations for a new marketing campaign when FADMO dialed in for a quick telephone interview. The campaign is titled Outsiders Welcome, “since we know the outside is our best side,” she says.

The biggest thing on the destination’s horizon is Allegiant Airlines’ Sunseeker Resorts Charlotte Harbor, which plans to open in fall 2020.

“The airline bought 22 acres here on Charlotte Harbor,” Wendie reveals. “[The resort will have] 700 hotel rooms and over 72,000 feet of meeting space. So, it’s going to change landscapes here. We are going to be embarking on a master tourism plan over the next year as everybody adjusts to having such a large attraction come to our area, having our partners work with them and vice versa, and getting the word out.”

Vestfall says she is looking forward to attending FADMO’s Destination Marketing Summit to be held May 22-24 in Jensen Beach.

“Chip [Futch, the VCB’s marketing director] signed me up for that the first day I was in the office,” she laughs. “I’m looking forward to meeting people, making new friends and sharing best practices and stories of what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”

Vestfall previously served as marketing and communications director for Discover Prince William & Manassas, Virginia, and has over 28 years of marketing and public relations experience. She holds a BA in business and organizational communications, PR/marketing from the University of Akron (Ohio). Originally from Cleveland, she spent more than 18 years in the Washington, D.C., area before moving to Delaware.

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