Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2018

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It's no secret that the "Sunshine State" has much to offer both the leisure and business traveler. With Florida's customary subtropical climate and most locations graced by a beach within a 45-minute radius, Florida draws thousands of travelers every year. Visitors around the globe flock year-round to Florida's well-known desti- nations of Orlando, Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and Tampa to name a few. Even with the visit of Hurricane Irma to Central Florida on 9-11-17, Ken Lawson, presi- dent and Chief Executive Officer of Visit Florida reports that "out of the state's 67 counties, 66 were back up and running within 24 hours. The Florida Keys received the brunt of the storm and needed some healing time; however, they too are currently back on board and open for business." Lawson assumed his role as president & CEO of Visit Florida in early January, 2017. Record quarters were noted in the first nine months of the year with the highest number of visitors in the state's history being 88.2 million. "This increase demonstrates that the Florida tourism industry has great momentum," Lawson noted. "I am excited about the future of Visit Florida and making our state the No. 1 travel destination in the world." Prior to joining Visit Florida, Lawson was a U.S. Marine Corps Judge Advocate General. He was the overseer of, among other divisions, restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR). During his six-year stint with them, he managed a team of 1,600 employees responsible for licensing and regulating more than 1 million businesses and professionals throughout the state. Now, following his service with the DBPR, Lawson is excited for the new opportu- nity to serve Visit Florida and being able to play a key role in promoting the great state to visi- tors near and far. As did many of his family before him, Lawson, a native Floridian, was proud to KEN LAWSON REPORTS ON HIS TENURE ASPRESIDENT/ CEO OF VISIT FLORIDA BY VICTORIA HEAD B M & T ••• July/August 2018 ••• 21

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