Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Record Breaking Tourism Numbers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that tourism to Florida has reached unprecedented levels, solidifying Florida’s status as the premier destination for travelers worldwide. Revised figures for 2023 show that Florida welcomed more than 140.6 million visitors, breaking previous records. Additionally, Florida’s first quarter of 2024 hit 40.6 million visitors, the highest ever recorded for a single quarter.

“Once again, Florida leads the nation as an unrivaled destination for tourists,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These record-breaking numbers show that our work has made the free state of Florida even more attractive to visitors.”

According to revised figures for 2023, Florida welcomed 140.6 million visitors, marking an increase of 2.3% from 2022’s record-breaking figure and establishing a new benchmark for visitation to the state. Domestic visitation reached an all-time high, with 129.1 million domestic visitors choosing to come to Florida in 2023, along with 8.3 million overseas visitors and 3.2 million Canadian visitors.

The momentum of unprecedented growth carried into the first quarter of 2024, with domestic visitation hitting a new high of 37.2 million, the highest ever recorded for a single quarter. Overseas visitation stood at 2.1 million, and Canadian visitation rose to 1.3 million. The total visitation for Q1 2024 shattered records, with an impressive 40.6 million visitors, a 1.2% year-over-year increase and the highest number of visitors ever received in a single quarter.

“Florida continues to welcome visitors with open arms,” said Dana Young, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “The record-breaking visitation seen in 2023 and continued through the first quarter of 2024 reaffirms Florida’s status as a must-visit destination for travelers worldwide.”

Highlights from VISIT FLORIDA’s revised 2023 visitation estimates include:

  • Grand total visitation has been revised from 135.0m (down -1.7% year over year) to 140.6m (up 2.3% YoY), making 2023 another record year for highest visitation ever.
  • Domestic visitation in 2023 was revised from -3.8% YoY to +1.1% YoY, making 2023 the highest level of domestic visitation ever.

Highlights from VISIT FLORIDA’s Quarter 1 visitation estimates include:

  • Preliminary estimates indicate that 40.6 million total visitors (in person-trips) traveled to Florida in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, a +1.2% increase from Q1 2023. This was the largest number of visitors on record for a single quarter, driven by the continuing recovery of international travel and continued strong domestic performance. Domestic visitors were 91.6% of the total, while overseas visitors accounted for 5.2% and Canadian visitors accounted for 3.2%.
  • Domestic visitation in Q1 2024 is estimated at a record high 37.2 million, a +0.2% increase from Q1 2023.
  • The preliminary air/non-air ratio for domestic, non-resident visitors in Q1 2024 is estimated at 38.2%/61.8%. The share of visitors traveling by air exceeded both Q1 2023 and pre-pandemic Q1 2019.
  • Overseas visitation is estimated at 2.1 million in Q1 2024, an +18.4% increase from Q1 2023. Visitation was down by -6.4% from Q1 2019, marking the closest that overseas visitation has come to full recovery since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Canadian visitation is estimated at 1.3 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 6.9% from Q1 2023.
  • Total enplanements at 19 Florida airports increased by +9.4% in Q1 2024 from Q1 2023, climbing to 30.2 million.
  • Orlando International was the state’s busiest airport with 7.6 million enplanements (+6.8%), followed by Miami with 7.5 million (+12.1%). The largest relative increase in enplanements was seen at Fort Myers airport (+25.2%), though Tallahassee also saw notable growth (+18.7%). The only airports to see decreases were Sanford (-3.5%) and Daytona (-0.6%).
  • Domestic enplanements at 19 Florida airports grew by +8.9% in Q1 2024 from Q1 2023. Domestic enplanements accounted for 81.6% of total enplanements, down from 82.0% in Q1 2023.

VISIT FLORIDA conducts regular revisions to visitor estimates, ensuring data accuracy as new information is collected and resources are identified.

As tourism to Florida continues to soar to new heights, these record-breaking figures underscore the state’s unwavering appeal. With unparalleled natural beauty, world-class attractions, and a commitment to freedom, Florida remains a beacon for travelers seeking unforgettable experiences.

FloridaCommerce Announces the Activation of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

~ $2 Million is Available for Businesses Impacted by North Florida Tornadoes ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, FloridaCommerce announced that Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $2 million available for businesses impacted by the recent severe weather that impacted North Florida. Florida small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL  to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. Businesses in Baker, Columbia, Escambia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply.

The program provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to May North Florida Tornadoes. Interested applicants can apply now through July 10, 2024, or until all available funds are expended.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, FloridaCommerce was grateful for the opportunity to support the Hope Florida team and Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary, Shevaun Harris on Saturday and Sunday, helping residents with all manner of needs; and we were grateful to have partners like Senator Corey Simon and Leon County Commissioner Christian Caban on the ground working with us,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly. “Now we are quickly mobilizing this Emergency Bridge Loan financial support for small businesses that may need help making payroll and bridging the way to normalcy during this interruption to their normal course of business.”

“As hard-working small businesses prepare for continued challenges ahead, we’re working to get financial assistance to you and the families you support as quickly as possible,” said State Senator Corey Simon. “These are tough times, but we will get through them together.”

“I want to thank FloridaCommerce for their swift action to make this bridge loan program available to small businesses in District 2,” said Leon County Commissioner Christian Caban. “All three tornadoes that impacted Leon County touched down in District 2 and this loan program is exactly what our businesses need to stay afloat as they address the damage caused by these storms. This program is a perfect reflection of the good that can be done when the government works for the people.”

Eligible small businesses may apply for loans of up to $50,000 through the program. Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding, such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources.

FloridaCommerce administers the Emergency Bridge Loan Program alongside its fiscal administrator, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation. Loans made under this program are short-term, zero-interest, personal loans using State of Florida funds. They are not grants and loans must be repaid by the approved applicant.

Visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL  to learn more about the program, view the lending guidelines and required documentation, and complete an application by the July 10, 2024, deadline. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

GOVERNOR DESANTIS ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER 24-95 – EXPANDS STATE OF EMERGENCY TO INCLUDE ESCAMBIA, OKALOOSA, AND SANTA ROSA COUNTIES

Following the severe weather that impacted North Florida on Friday, May 10, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order (EO) 24-94 (May North Florida Tornadoes). Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 24-95, expanding the number of counties under a state of emergency to 15 counties. Counties included in the executive order are: Baker, Columbia, Escambia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

To read the full executive order, click here or read below:

STATE OF FLORIDA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 24-95

(Amending Executive Order 24-94, Emergency Management – May North Florida Tornadoes)

WHEREAS, on May 10, 2024, I issued Executive Order 24-94, declaring a state of emergency for several counties across North Florida due to the dangers presented by an intense thunderstorm that caused numerous tornadoes and strong wind gusts across North Florida; and

WHEREAS, thousands of Floridians in North Florida have lost power and are further impacted due to the widespread debris caused by the tornadoes, strong winds and heavy rain; and

WHEREAS, as the Governor of Florida, I am responsible to meet the dangers presented to the State of Florida and its people by this emergency.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution and by the Florida Emergency Management Act, as amended, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:

Section 1.        Section l of Executive Order 24-94 is amended to read as follows:

Because of the foregoing conditions, which are expected to constitute a major disaster, I declare that a state of emergency exists in Baker, Columbia, Escambia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

Section 2.        Except as amended herein, Executive Order 24-94 is ratified and reaffirmed.

Section 3.        This Executive Order is effective immediately and shall expire upon the expiration of Executive Order 24-94.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed, at Tallahassee, this 13th day of May, 2024.

Governor DeSantis Issues Executive Order 24-94 – May North Florida Tornadoes – Business Damage Assessment Survey Activated

Florida Commerce Activates Business Damage Assessment Survey here.

Following the severe weather that impacted North Florida on Friday, May 10, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 24-94 (May North Florida Tornadoes), to include 12 counties under a state of emergency from severe weather impacting the state of Florida. Counties included in the executive order are: Baker, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

To read the full executive order, click here or read below:

WHEREAS, in the early morning hours of May 10, 2024, an intense thunderstorm moved across the western United States and brought severe weather across North Florida; and

WHEREAS, numerous tornadoes and strong wind gusts caused significant damage to critical state infrastructure, including wind and tree fall damage to residences, businesses, powerlines, and other infrastructure across North Florida; and

WHEREAS, thousands of Floridians in North Florida have lost power and are further impacted due to the widespread debris caused by the tornadoes, strong winds and heavy rain; and

WHEREAS, several incidents of storm related injuries have been reported to the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s State Watch Office; and

WHEREAS, state meteorologists have confirmed the possibility of additional lingering storms and severe weather later today for North Florida; and

WHEREAS, as Governor of Florida, I am responsible to meet the dangers presented to the State of Florida and its people by this emergency.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution and by the Florida Emergency Management Act, as amended, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:

Section 1.        Because of the foregoing conditions, which are expected to constitute a major disaster, I declare that a state of emergency exists in Baker, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

Section 2 .        I designate the Director of the Division of Emergency Management (“Director”) as the State Coordinating Officer for the duration of this emergency and direct him to execute the State’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recovery and mitigation plans necessary to cope with the emergency.  Pursuant to section 252.36(1)(a), Florida Statutes, I delegate to the State Coordinating Officer the authority to exercise those powers delineated in sections 252.36(6)-(12), Florida Statutes, which he shall exercise as needed to meet this emergency, subject to the limitations of section 252.33, Florida Statutes.  In exercising the powers delegated by this Executive Order, the State Coordinating Officer shall confer with the Governor to the fullest extent practicable.  The State Coordinating Officer shall also have the authority to:

A. Invoke and administer the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (“EMAC”) (sections 252.921-252.9335, Florida Statutes) and other compacts and agreements existing between the State of Florida and other states, and the further authority to coordinate the allocation of resources from such other states that are made available to Florida under such compacts and agreements so as to best meet the dangers presented by this emergency.

B. Seek direct assistance and enter into agreements with any and all agencies of the federal government as may be needed to meet this emergency.

C. Direct all state, regional, and local governmental agencies, including law enforcement agencies, to identify personnel needed from those agencies to assist in meeting the response, recovery, and mitigation needs created by this emergency, and to place all such personnel under the direct command and coordination of the State Coordinating Officer to meet this emergency.

D. Direct the actions of any state agency as necessary to implement the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Disaster Recovery Framework.

E. Designate Deputy State Coordinating Officers and Deputy State Disaster Recovery Coordinators, as necessary.

F. Suspend the effect of any statute, rule, or order that would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay any mitigation, response or recovery action necessary to cope with this emergency.  In accordance with section 252.3611(1), Florida Statutes, any such order, declaration, or other action shall specify each statute or rule being amended or waived, if applicable, and the expiration date for the order or action.

G. Enter orders as may be needed to implement any of the foregoing powers; however, the requirements of sections 252.46 and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, do not apply to any such orders issued by the State Coordinating Officer.  No such order shall remain in effect beyond the expiration of this Executive Order, including any extension thereof.

Section 3.        I order the Adjutant General to activate the Florida National Guard, as needed, to deal with this emergency.

Section 4.        I find that the special duties and responsibilities resting upon some state, regional, and local agencies and other governmental bodies in responding to this emergency may require them to suspend or waive certain statutes, rules, ordinances, and orders they administer.  Therefore, I issue the following authorizations:

A. Pursuant to section 252.36(6)(a), Florida Statutes, the Executive Office of the Governor may suspend all statutes and rules affecting budgeting to the extent necessary to provide budget authority for state agencies to cope with this emergency.  The requirements of sections 252.46 and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, do not apply to any such suspension issued by the Executive Office of the Governor.  No such suspension shall remain in effect beyond the expiration of this Executive Order, including any extension thereof.

B. Each State agency may suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules of that agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any such statute, order, or rule would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency.  In accordance with section 252.3611(1), Florida Statutes, any agency order, declaration, or other action suspending a statute or rule shall specify each statute or rule being amended or waived, if applicable, and the expiration date for the order or action.  The requirements of sections 252.46 and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, shall not apply to any such suspension issued by a state agency.  No such suspension shall remain in effect beyond the expiration of this Executive Order, including any extension thereof.

C. All state agencies entering emergency orders, emergency rules, or other emergency actions in response to this emergency shall advise the State Coordinating Officer contemporaneously or as soon as practicable thereafter, and, pursuant to section 252.36(3)(b), Florida Statutes, shall file the order or declaration with the Division of Administrative Hearings within five days of issuance.

Section 5 .        I find that the demands placed upon the funds appropriated to the agencies of the State of Florida and to local agencies are unreasonably great and may be inadequate to pay the costs of coping with this disaster.  In accordance with section 252.37(2), Florida Statutes, I direct that sufficient funds be made available, as needed, by transferring and expending moneys from the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund.

Section 6.        All actions taken by the Director of the Division of Emergency Management as the State Coordinating Officer with respect to this emergency before the issuance of this Executive Order are ratified, and he is directed to continue to execute the State of Florida Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and other response, recovery, and mitigation plans necessary to cope with this emergency.

Section 7.        This Executive Order is effective immediately and shall expire sixty (60) days from this date unless extended

Florida Remains the #1 Destination for Domestic Tourism

Florida also ranks #2 for international tourism. 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that VISIT FLORIDA data shows that Florida has maintained its position as the #1 domestic tourist destination in the United States and remained a top destination for international visitors (ranking #2 in the country). In 2023, Florida’s market share of domestic tourists increased to 14.8%, up from 13.8% in 2022. This surge in market share represents the largest increase of any state, underscoring Florida’s appeal to travelers from across the country.

“Florida’s world class attractions, hospitality, and unwavering commitment to freedom have solidified our position as the top vacation destination,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These figures show that Florida continues to be on the right path, as we have insisted on prioritizing public safety and common-sense leadership.”

While Florida’s domestic market share increased from 2022, other formerly popular destinations saw negative shifts in their shares. California experienced a notable decline, losing 1.2 percentage points, while New York saw a decrease of 0.8 percentage points. With these shifts, Florida now leads the U.S. by a substantial margin, boasting a 2.7 percentage point advantage over California, securing its position as the premier destination for American travelers.

“Florida’s continued ability to attract visitors speaks volumes about the state’s appeal, both domestically and internationally. From our pristine beaches and serene state parks to the thrills of our world-renowned theme parks and vibrant cities, Florida continues to captivate visitors with its unmatched experiences,” said Dana Young, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “We look forward to continuing to surpass all expectations and welcoming visitors to our beautiful state.”

Florida saw a noticeable uptick in overseas tourism in 2023. As the recovery of international travel continued, Florida garnered 25.2% of the overseas market share of travelers to the U.S.

In March 2024, overseas visitation to Florida surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time, with a 1.7% increase compared to March 2019. Notably, visitation from key markets such as the UK, Germany, and Mexico saw significant growth, with UK visitation up by 12%, German visitation up by 28%, and Mexican visitation up 61% compared to the same month in 2019.

Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management ranked in world’s top 1% by QS World University Rankings

Program moves two spots to #6 in the U.S. in hospitality & tourism education

 

MIAMI (April 23, 2024) – The Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University (FIU) is continuing to climb in the rankings. In the 2024 QS World University Rankings by Subject: Hospitality & Leisure Management, the Chaplin School rose two spots from the No. 8 to the No. 6 best hospitality program among U.S. public universities nationwide. Its worldwide ranking also improved from 35 to 31 globally, placing it in the top 1% of hospitality and tourism education institutions of higher learning.

“Our top priority is student success, which is reflected in our rise in academic reputation,” said Michael Cheng, dean of the Chaplin School. “We try to ensure both academic and employer reputation by having top industry leaders teaching our classes, updating curriculum quickly to ensure our graduates attain employment and are on the forefront of industry needs, and offering unique educational programs and experiences to our students, alumni and in the community.”

The QS World University Rankings by Subject identify the world’s strongest universities in 60 individual subject areas. The hospitality and leisure management rankings are based on an independent comparative analysis of 2,255 institutions worldwide with hospitality programs. This year for the first time, the rankings also included Sustainability, Employment Outcomes, and International Research Network. FIU Chaplin School scored two of its highest scores in Sustainability and International Research Network.

“The Chaplin School’s innovative programs, which include important hands-on, real-life experiences, are educating leaders in the hospitality industry,” said FIU Executive Vice President, Provost and Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth M. Béjar. “The QS ranking recognizes how FIU is contributing to this vital industry, which is essential to our region’s economic future.”

The QS ranking evaluates an institution’s academic performance in certain fields, to give students and the institution insight into a program’s strengths, as well as what might need to be prioritized to achieve a better student experience.

FIU Chaplin School’s rankings are a result of concentrating efforts on key performance indicators, such as student success, First Time in College (FTIC), four-year graduation rate, and two-year retention rates. The school also is known for student engagement and unique experiential learning opportunities, such as leadership roles only open to FIU students at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One (SOBEWFF®), a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Sustainable Tourism, and a one-of-a-kind Master of Science degree concentrating on Cruise Line Operations Management in the Cruise Capital of the World.

FIU Chaplin School works with more than 100 hospitality employers to ensure students secure employment after graduation. As the country’s leading diverse hospitality program, the Chaplin School also graduates more undergraduate Black, Hispanic, and international students than any other school.

-FIU-

About FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management:
Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is the No. 6 best hospitality school among U.S. Public Universities and ranked 31 in the world. Nearly 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation and around the globe choose FIU for its outstanding reputation, advantageous campus locations in Miami, expert faculty, rich curriculum and real career opportunities in the international hotel, real estate, foodservice, beverage and spirits management, travel, tourism, revenue management, entertainment, and mega and large-scale event industries. As the leading diverse hospitality program with over 70% women and students from 74 countries represented, Chaplin School graduates more undergraduate Black, Hispanic and International students than any other school. For more information about Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, visit http://hospitality.fiu.edu.

About FIU:
Florida International University is a top public university that drives real talent and innovation in Miami and globally. Very high research (R1) activity and high social mobility come together at FIU to uplift and accelerate student success in a global city by focusing in the areas of environment, health and innovation. Today, FIU has two campuses and multiple centers. FIU serves a diverse student body of more than 56,000 and 300,000 Panther alumni. FIU is ranked No. 4 Best Public University by the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report places dozens of FIU programs among the best in the nation, including international business at No. 2. Washington Monthly Magazine ranks FIU among the top 20 public universities contributing to the public good and Degree Choices places it among the top 10 in the nation for return on investment.

More than $1.9 Million in Scholarships Offered for Florida High School Students in Annual Hospitality Competitions

ORLANDO – From February 28 – March 2 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, 400 Florida high school students from more than 50 schools competed in the statewide annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (FRLAEF) Hospitality & Tourism Management Program (HTM) Competition and ProStart Culinary Team Competitions. This year marked the 23rd year for the ProStart competition and the 20th year for the HTM event; Florida is the only state to host a statewide competition for the HTM program. Executive and Board Leadership from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) attended the competition.

Throughout the weekend, ProStart students competed in categories including Culinary, Management, Edible Centerpiece, and Waiters Relay. At the Salute to Excellence Award ceremony, students were awarded for their respective competition categories. Students received scholarships from the FRLAEF, as well as Culinary Institute of America, Culinary Institute of Virginia, Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Johnson & Wales University, Keiser University, Nichollas State University, and UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality. Winners will advance to the national ProStart Invitational which is hosted by the National Restaurant Association. HTM students competed in categories including Hotel Operations, Hospitality Project, and the Knowledge Bowl and were also awarded scholarships from the FRLA Educational Foundation.

These events would not be possible without the support of our Global Sponsors which are Keiser University, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality and Universal Orlando. Event sponsors include Disney Culinary, Ecolab, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University.

“This year’s ProStart and HTM competitions showcased the dedication and skill of our exceptional hospitality students,” said Laura Rumer, Director of the FRLA Educational Foundation. “It was inspiring to witness the spirited competition, collaborative teamwork, and enthusiastic school pride demonstrated by these students and their instructors. We are incredibly grateful to everyone involved from across the hospitality industry, including our esteemed judges and devoted volunteers. We are excited for the promising futures of these outstanding students and look forward to our winners representing Florida at the national competition this spring in Washington, D.C.”

“As the top state for tourism and hospitality, Florida proudly maintains its forefront position in high school hospitality education,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “With the largest ProStart program nationwide and the unique distinction of being the only state to host a statewide HTM contest, we remain committed to nurturing the next generation of industry leaders. These competitions serve as vital investments in our students, who embody the future of this dynamic field. Witnessing their dedication and talent in action is truly exhilarating. Congratulations to these exceptional young individuals and to their devoted instructors, whose unwavering dedication shapes the path to success.”

23rd ANNUAL FLORIDA PROSTART COMPETITION WINNERS:

OVERALL WINNERS

1st  Place        Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Instructor Paul Bonanno

2nd Place         Martin County High School (Stuart): Instructor Shaun Southwick
3rd
TIE             Wekiva High School (Apopka): Instructor Christopher Bates
3rd
TIE              St. Lucie West Centennial High School (Port St. Lucie): Instructor Christina Gedke-Balaschak

4th TIE             Lyman High School (Longwood): Instructor Dane Brevoort

4th  TIE             Steinbrenner High School (Lutz): Instructor Cheryl White

5th  Place         South Lake High School (Groveland): Instructor John Thunberg

KEISER UNIVERSITY CULINARY COMPETITION

1st Place          Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Andrew Raab, Raegan Monroe, Rubicel Lopez, Jadira Ipanaque, Taylor Carlisle, Instructor Paul Bonanno

2nd Place         St. Lucie West Centennial High School (Port St. Lucie): Isaac Vasconcelos, Nathan Korb, Kaitlyn Owens, Instructor Christina Gedke-Balaschak

3rd Place          Martin County High School (Stuart): Michael De Cesare, Kalla Caves, Zachary Walker, Sarah Duda, Belle Quevedo, Instructor Shaun Southwick

4th Place          JP Taravella High School (Coral Springs): K’xada Herbert, Lauren Sandell, Yojeved Navarro, Savanna Hurlbert, Austin Thompson, Instructor Scott Goodman

5th Place          Olympia High School (Orlando): Luke Digiammarino, Sofia Galbis, Emma Pohlhammer, Katherine Garcia, Instructor Michael Lit

UCF ROSEN COLLEGE OF HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT COMPETITION

1st Place          Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Katya King, Caleigh Ross, Sienna Smith, Faye Lee, Juliana Kelly, Instructor Paul Bonanno

2nd Place         Wekiva High School (Apopka): America Castillo, Mia Del Valle, Isaac Aristrud, Emma Gonzelez-Miguel, Ema Thomas, Instructor Christopher Bates

3rd Place           Martin County High School (Stuart) Victoria Garcia, Rosemary Hernandez, Guadalupe Torres-Escobar, Sienna Hartley, Jennifer Lopez, Instructor Shaun Southwick

4th Place           Coral Springs High School (Coral Springs): Kayla Connell, Brady Porter, Cole Clapp, David Puello, Eric Wilson, Instructor Aruna Lien

5th Place           Osceola Fundamental High School (Seminole): Mackenzie Dunn, Kayla Dudinsky, Jessica Jamieson, Lily Schneidewind, Instructor Chris Long

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO EDIBLE CENTERPIECE COMPETITION

1st Place          Ava Caldwell, Lyman High School, Longwood (Instructor Dane Brevoort)

2nd Place         Bryar Stoney, Martin County High School, Stuart (Instructor Shaun Southwick)

3rd Place          Nicholas Leonardi, Fort Pierce Central High School, Fort Pierce (Instructor Jesse Strell)

4th Place          Daisy Silva-Bautista, Strawberry Crest High School, Dover (Instructor Paul Bonanno)

5th Place         Abigail Roth, St. Lucie West Centennial High School, Port St. Lucie (Instructor Christina Gedke-Balaschak

WAITERS RELAY COMPETITION

1st Place            Steinbrenner High School (Lutz): Evan Cannon, Cameron DeLeon, Fiona Wang, Instructors Cheryl White

2nd Place           South Lake High School (Groveland): Ryder Eckert, Isabel Acensio, Evan Greblick, Instructor John Thunberg

3rd Place           Strawberry Crest High School (Dover): Marie Townsel, Katie Lynn Ben Said, Lizbeth Lopez-Bautista, Instructor Paul Bonanno

4th Place           Winter Springs High School (Winter Springs): Davon Jacobsen, Xionel Bembry, Sydney Hanson, Instructor Adam Efland

5th Place            Wekiva High School (Apopka): Bertuni Cleonard, Armaan Welch, Jubal Castillo, Instructor Christopher Bates

ProStart is a nationwide high school career program educating nearly 150,000 students in culinary arts and restaurant management skills. Florida’s ProStart program is the largest in the nation with approximately 30,000 students enrolled annually. ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and sets a high standard of excellence for the industry’s next generation of leaders. Yearly, students compete on state and nation-wide levels to showcase skills learnt in their classroom kitchens.

20th ANNUAL HTM COMPETITION WINNERS:

OVERALL WINNERS

1st  Place         Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Olympia High School (Orlando): Instructor Kristina Bryant

3rd  Place         Robert Morgan Educational Center (Miami): Instructor Alina Hughes

HOTEL OPERATIONS COMPETITION

1st Place          Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Blake Backman, Macy Meis, Saya Greiner, Maddison Schapiro, Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Seminole Virtual High School (Lake Mary): Lindsey Weber, Emiaj Jaime, Zachary Griffin, Alexavier Sanders, Instructor Kimberly Pintok

3rd Place          Gainesville High School (Gainesville): Emily Yanik, Sam Myers, Brittney Davis, Instructor Dawn Bekaert

HOSPITALITY PROJECT COMPETITION

1st Place          Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Blake Backman, Macy Meis, Saya Greiner, Maddison Schapiro; Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Olympia High School (Orlando): Isabel Miller, Aubrey Heaton, Mitley Seide, Ella Tran, Instructor Kristina Bryant

3rd Place          Seminole Virtual High School (Lake Mary): Lindsey Weber, Emiaj Jaime, Zachary Griffin, Alexavier Sanders, Instructor Kimberly Pintok

KNOWLEDGE BOWL COMPETITION

1st Place          Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland): Blake Backman, Macy Meis, Saya Greiner, Maddison Schapiro, Instructor Mitchell Albert

2nd Place         Gainesville High School (Gainesville): Emily Yanik, Sam Myers, Brittney Davis, Instructor Dawn Bekaert

3rd Place          Robert Morgan Educational Center (Miami): Destinee Rodger, Julia Felipe-Careaga, Peyton McQueen, Samyra White; Instructor Alina Hughes

 

The Hospitality & Tourism Management program (HTM) is a high school curriculum that introduces 2,000 Florida students to the hospitality and tourism industry each year. HTM presents the industry on a global scale with a large focus on diversity. Most importantly, this curriculum is industry driven as evidenced by the fact that more than 60 industry leaders served as subject matter experts, ensuring that today’s program matches the needs of hospitality employers across the world. Each year, Florida’s HTM students compete at the state level to showcase their skills they have learned in the classroom.

For more information about ProStart, HTM, or FRLA’s Educational Foundation, visit our webpage or contact Director Laura Rumer at LRumer@frla.org.

 

About the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks, and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s $111.7 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.3 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of its membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.

 

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Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Recognizes Northeast Florida Hospitality Employees for Service Excellence at 15th Annual ROSE Awards Ceremony

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – Last night, more than 400 people from across the regional hospitality industry gathered at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village in St. Augustine for the 15th Annual ROSE Awards ceremony to recognize outstanding employees from across Northeast Florida’s hospitality community

The premier event of the Northeast Chapter of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), the ROSE (Recognition of Service Excellence) Awards honor frontline hospitality champions across Northeast Florida. This year’s event boasted more than 118 nominees from 36 different businesses, and 30 outstanding team members were honored with the coveted ROSE Award. From administrative assistants to chefs, housekeeping to transportation, and front desk staff to valet and bellmen, every single position in hospitality is critical to the success of the business in achieving outstanding guest experiences. Last night’s winners each received their award, the coveted ROSE Award pin, gift cards from local businesses, and recognition from industry peers and leadership. Middle managers were also recognized for their commitment and hard work throughout the ceremony. This year’s winners also included “Beyond the Call of Duty” awardees who saved the lives of guests in various life-threatening emergencies. A new end-of-the-program surprise in honor of the 15th year of the ROSE Awards included VISIT Jacksonville President & CEO Michael Corrigan presenting a $1,500 check to a ROSE Award nominee.

“It’s an honor to celebrate the fifteenth year of this amazing event and spend an evening recognizing the best of the best in Northeast Florida hospitality,” said Nicole Chapman, Regional Director for FRLA and the event’s creator and organizer. “Day in and day out these individuals truly go above and beyond as ambassadors for our region and our industry. Our winners are shining stars in our hotels and restaurants that keep our visitors coming back, and we are so proud to honor them.”

“Celebrating the heart and soul of hospitality in Northeast Florida, the ROSE Awards shine a light on excellence, dedication, and service above self,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of FRLA. “It is with immense pride that we honor the nominees and winners who embody the spirit of hospitality, enriching experiences, and creating lasting memories for our guests. Their unwavering commitment sets the standard for our industry, inspiring us all to elevate our service and embrace the true essence of hospitality.”

The 2024 ROSE Award winners are:

President’s Award: Milos Sukunda, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront

Administrative Assistant: Stephanie DiGregorio, World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine

Allied Member Spotlight: Jamie Williams, St Johns Food Service

Banquets: Evelyn Vennes, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Bartender / Mixologist: Tiffany Luna, Courtyard by Marriott Orange Park

Behind the Scenes: Jessica Colon, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Beyond the Call of Duty: Chris Blockberger, Epping Forest Yacht & Country Club

Beyond the Call of Duty: Douglas “Trey” Bennett, Omni Amelia Island Resort

Beyond the Call of Duty: Racheal Cox, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront

Beyond the Call of Duty: Brian Doyle & Ben Pierce, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Culinary Service – Chef / Cook Hotel: Najah Alhasan, World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine

Culinary Service – Chef/Cook Restaurant: Jose Camacho, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa

Customer Service – Concierge, Recreation, Spa: Linda Fretwell, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa

Customer Service – Event Services: Rodney Funk, Crown Linen, LLC

Food & Beverage – Support: Ezzahia Ezzine, Doubletree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront

Guest Service – Front Desk, Full-Service Hotel: Deidra Facey, Omni Amelia Island Resort

Guest Service – Front Desk, Select Service Hotel: Josh Avery, Element by Westin Jacksonville Beach

Guest Service – Housekeeping, Full-Service Hotel: Julie Morrison, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Guest Service – Housekeeping, Select Service Hotel: Ashley Marshall, Courtyard by St. Augustine I-95

Guest Service – Laundry: Sheila Lawson, Courtyard by St. Augustine I-95

Guest Service – Maintenance / Engineer: Bo Suddueth, Doubletree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront

Guest Service – Security: Marketta Thomas, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront

Guest Service – Valet / Bell Attendant: Alberto Vanegas, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Server – Hotel Breakfast Attendant: Raylene Martinez, Fairfield Inn by Marriott Jacksonville Beach

Server – Restaurant, Casual Dining: Roberta Hampton, Sunset Grille

Server – Restaurant, Fine Dining: Glensner Layugan, One Ocean Resort & Spa

Server – Restaurant, Hotel: Christina Johnson, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Restaurant – Quick Service: Darloni Fleming, Jeremiah’s of Fleming Island

Transportation – Airport, Ground, & Water: Edward Madden, Jax Black Car

About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.3 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through Safe Staff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.

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Florida Tourism Industry Promotes the Impacts and Benefits of Tourism During “Florida Tourism Days”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 31, 2024

CONTACTS:

For Destinations Florida: Jennifer Fennell, (850) 597-0057, jennifer@coremessage.com

For Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association: Ashley Chambers, (254) 715-9040, achambers@frla.org

 

Tallahassee, Fla. – Over the next week, representatives of Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry will promote the value of tourism and tourism promotion during “Florida Tourism Days: Seven Days of Sunshine,” which includes events, a social media campaign, and visits with lawmakers in Tallahassee to discuss legislative priorities. Tourism and hospitality are the state’s number one industry, the economic engine of our state, a top employer, and a source of revenue that benefits communities across Florida.

Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry have a significant impact on state and local economies, as well as Florida’s job market. According to a recent study commissioned by VISIT FLORIDA:

  • In 2022, travelers spent a record $124.9 billion, outpacing 2021 by nearly $20 billion.
  • For every dollar spent by the 137.4 million visitors in 2022, 97 cents were retained in the Florida economy.
  • On average, visitors contribute $333 million per day to Florida’s economy.
  • Florida tourism raised a total of $35.2 billion in taxes, $18.9 billion in federal tax revenue, $8.1 billion in Florida state tax revenue, and $8.2 billion in local tax receipts.
  • Tourism-supported employment surpassed its pre-pandemic peak by 422,000 jobs, growing to 2 million jobs, with direct employment making up 66 percent of the total at 1.3 million jobs.
  • Travel and tourism generated $73 billion in wages for Florida workers in 2022.

Welcoming visitors to our state also provides benefits to residents. Thanks to tourism and the revenue tourism generates:

  • Florida residents do not pay a state income tax, making Florida one of only eight states without a state income tax.
  • Every Florida household saves $1,840 a year on state and local taxes.
  • Communities can provide critical services residents rely on, such as education, public safety, infrastructure, and environmental programs.

 

Here’s what Florida tourism and hospitality leaders are saying regarding legislation impacting the tourism and hospitality industry:

Bill Lupfer, President & CEO, Florida Attractions Association

“VISIT FLORIDA does an excellent job promoting our state as a whole to potential visitors, but local tourism promotion is essential to bringing visitors to the various destinations throughout the state. We need local tourism promotion, funded through Tourist Development Taxes, to bring visitors to our members’ gates and to keep industry professionals employed. We strongly oppose any expansion of the uses of Tourist Development Taxes.”

Malinda Horton, Executive Director, Florida Association of Museums

“Tourist Development Taxes were established to ensure counties had a dedicated funding source for the tourism promotion efforts necessary to create jobs and generate local revenue. They not only help our members attract out-of-town visitors to our museums and other arts and cultural experiences, but they also ensure those institutions are available for residents to enjoy. To keep these travel offerings available to residents and visitors alike, we need to not make any changes to the current permissible uses of Tourist Development Taxes.”

Carol Dover, President/CEO, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

“The strength of Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry ensures that Florida remains a premier destination for visitors and that our state expands its economic vitality. We will continue to work with legislators to champion the needs of our members and the broader hospitality community to promote job creation, retain and attract a diverse workforce, improve and simplify business processes, and support tourism promotion. Together, we can build a resilient and vibrant industry that not only meets the expectations of travelers but also contributes significantly to Florida’s economic prosperity.”

Bobby Cornwell, President and CEO, Florida RV Park and Campground Association

“Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy. It is a major source of revenue for the state and for local communities. Maintaining a strong tourism industry will ensure these revenue streams will continue to support our state and local counties’ budgets. The only way to do that is to continue to fund state tourism promotion through VISIT FLORIDA and local tourism promotion through Tourist Development Taxes.”

Robert Skrob, Executive Director, Destinations Florida

“Tourism is one of the reasons Florida is such a great place to live, work, and play because it helps keep the tax base low for residents. We don’t pay a state income tax and we save more than $1,800 in state and local taxes each year. Local tourism promotion, which is funded through Tourist Development Taxes, is instrumental in bringing these visitors to our destinations. It is imperative that we maintain the current permissible uses of Tourist Development Taxes.”

Dana Young, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA

“VISIT FLORIDA is proud to work with our valued partners and industry associations across the state to promote Florida’s Sunshine throughout the world. Florida’s Tourism Industry is the heartbeat of our state’s economy, with visitors having an economic impact of $121.5 Billion throughout the state, and by working together we can ensure that Florida remains the #1 destination for visitors.”

 

RELEASE: Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Award $550,000 in Florida Disaster Fund Grants for Hurricane Idalia Long-Term Recovery Efforts

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced $550,000 in Florida Disaster Fund recovery grants to support long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Idalia. Expedited grants in the amount of $50,000 have been awarded to 11 organizations that are designated as Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs). LTRGs help to coordinate long-term recovery services within the communities and connect Floridians with available programs. The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover after a disaster.

“We will continue to provide support for Floridians as they recover following Hurricane Idalia,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Hurricane recovery does not happen in just the days and weeks following a storm, and we will support impacted communities every step of the way.”

“I am proud of what we have done for Floridians as they recover from Hurricane Idalia. With dedicated dollars from the Florida Disaster Fund, we are supporting long-term recovery efforts and ensuring that there are no unmet needs,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Recovery can be a long process and I am appreciative of the work that our Governor continues to do to support Floridians impacted by Hurricane Idalia.”

“The Volunteer Florida Foundation is pleased to announce the award of Florida Disaster Fund grants that will support long-term efforts in areas still recovering from Hurricane Idalia,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo. “We are committed to ensuring our communities receive the support necessary to rebuild. Thank you to those who donated to the Florida Disaster Fund and made this support possible.”

The following counties were awarded Florida Disaster Fund long-term recovery grants to support existing projects that help individuals recover from Hurricane Idalia:

  • Charlotte ($50,000)
  • Citrus ($50,000)
  • Hernando ($50,000)
  • Jefferson ($50,000)
  • Madison ($50,000)
  • Pasco ($50,000)
  • Pinellas ($50,000)
  • Sarasota ($50,000)
  • Suwannee Valley (Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Columbia) ($50,000)
  • Taylor ($50,000)
  • Tri-County (Gilchrist, Dixie, Levy) ($50,000)

These awards follow more than $1.6 million awarded to education foundations, charitable organizations and local community churches in addition to a $700,000 award to support the shellfish and aquaculture industry and a $100,000 award to support Taylor County workforce and economic development activities following the storm.

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