FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover and Local Hoteliers and Restaurateurs Report Florida is Open for Business

MAY 06, 2010 – Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s (FRLA) President and CEO Carol Dover held a press conference today with Northwest Florida hoteliers and restaurateurs to report that the Sunshine State is open for business. The press conference was held at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front in Pensacola Beach this morning. Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink also participated in today’s conference.

“Florida is open for business. Florida beaches have not been closed. No oil has washed ashore. Seafood is safe to eat and charter fishing boats are running daily. But we must stop sending the message that the world’s most beautiful beaches are covered in oil,”said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“There have been reports that the whole north part of the coast is closed for fishing, and that is just not the case,” said Bruce Craul, COO of Legendary Inc. “Our folks are fishing everyday and red snapper season opens June 1. It is business as usual, the coast is clear, and charter boats in Destin are running,” continued Craul, who also serves as
the Secretary Treasurer of FRLA.

Florida tourism enjoys over 80 million visitors each year, with over 14 million visiting the Panhandle area. Regionally, there are 3,200 restaurants and 1,600 hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals which account for over 80,000 rooms.

“There have been no significant cancellations, and just today we see that May’s overall pace of bookings has been flat over this time last year,” said Julian MacQueen, CEO of Innisfree Hotels. “In fact, we find only 20 percent of the people actually go to the water. People are here for the overall experience, incredible views, amazing sunsets, beautiful fishing opportunities and all the things Pensacola Beach brings.”

“We are watching closely and have recently posted actual photos and videos from our sites, which are updated on a daily basis so people have a visual reference,” said Park Brady, CEO of ResortQuest. “As for bookings, we are lowering the risk and modifying our cancellation policies. We are not going to risk your deposits and we are committed
to being honest and accurate – and people are coming back.”

“We know the oil spill is a threat and need to plan ahead,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. “It is important for local businesses to keep very organized and detailed records of any lost business, because we will hold BP accountable for any lost business as a result of the spill.”

The Association encourages all business owners to keep accurate records of any and all cancellations, along with the number of employees that may have had to be let go. This is important documentation that our industry will need in the coming weeks and months. We encourage our members to begin the claims process by contacting the BP
Claims Hotline by calling 1‐800‐440‐0858. Please go to for this and all updates on the BP oil spill.

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CONTACT: Christina Johnson
May 6, 2010 850.339.5773

About FRLA:
In existence since 1946, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is Florida’s premier nonprofit, hospitality industry trade association. FRLA safeguards the needs of the hospitality industry, improves the business climate, promotes the highest levels of quality and safety for our patrons, provides legislative advocacy, and eases navigation of government regulation. The Association represents and serves more than 10,000 independent and household name members, including theme parks and the largest casual theme restaurant company in the world. For more information, please go to

Tourism Officials Press Crist for Help to Bring Vacationers Back to Florida After Oil Spill

MAY 11-12, 2010 – VISIT FLORIDA and Florida Commission on Tourism Meetings were held on May 11 and 12, during which FRLA presented Governor Crist with a letter requesting dollars for a “Florida is Open for Business” marketing campaign to begin immediately for those counties affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Read: FRLA Letter to Governor Crist on May 11 (on website)

Watch: VISIT FLORIDA meeting video for personal appeal of funding on May 12

Read: Governor Crist Press Release asking BP for marketing dollars on May 12

– See more at:

FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover to Host Tourism Industry Briefing and Discussion with Northwest Florida Hoteliers and Restaurateurs

MAY 14, 2010 – The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s (FRLA) President and CEO Carol Dover will hold a Tourism Industry Briefing and Discussion with local hoteliers and restaurateurs on Friday, May 14, in Destin, Florida, to discuss tourism and marketing efforts in Northwest Florida. Special guest Chris Thompson, President and
CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, will also address the forum. This briefing and discussion will center on the massive decline in reservations during the height of the region’s holiday season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and outreach efforts to bring tourists back to Florida.

Friday, May 14, 2010
1:00 – 3:00 PM CENTRAL
Emerald Grande Harbor Walk Village
The Grande Ballroom – West Room
10 Harbor Boulevard
Destin, FL 32541


Carol Dover, President and CEO, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
Chris Thompson, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA
The Honorable Jeff Miller, United States Congress, District 1
Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater (R‐North Palm Beach)
Florida State Representative Marti Coley (R‐Marianna)
Bruce Craul, COO, Legendary; Secretary Treasurer, FRLA


Members, Northwest Florida Chapter, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
Members, Coastal Vision 3000
Members, Northwest Florida Legislative Delegation, Invited

For additional information, including media confirmation, please contact Christina Johnson at 850.391.5040 or via email at

FRLA Quoted in The Wall Street Journal

MAY 14, 2010 — “The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates occupancy rates already are down 30% from a year ago along roughly 100 miles of Panhandle beaches between Pensacola and Panama City — the northwestern part of the state that is closest to the spill and attracts most of its tourists between May and August.”

Read more.

FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover Thanks British Petroleum CEO for $25 Million Grant for Florida Advertising Campaign

MAY 18, 2010 — Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) President Carol Dover met with British Petroleum (BP) Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward on May 17 to personally thank him and Florida Governor Charlie Crist for working toward the funding of a $25 million advertising campaign for the Sunshine State.

The $25 million grant will be directed toward the state’s official marketing office, VISIT FLORIDA, to implement a multimedia campaign aimed primarily to encourage tourists to book and re-book their hotel and vacation plans in Northwest Florida during the upcoming Memorial Day through Labor Day holiday season. Carol Dover spoke to Tony Hayward directly to discuss the impact to FRLA member properties, particularly in the Panhandle area, and the potential of the spill washing ashore in The Keys.

“Our beaches are beautiful. No oil has washed ashore. Seafood is safe to eat, and charter fishing boats are running daily,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “This marketing campaign will allow for us to inform millions of tourists that Florida is open for business.”

Florida has 46,000 restaurants statewide, with over 3,200 in the Northwest Florida region. The state also has over 8,000 hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals – over 1,000 in the region alone, representing over 80,000 rooms.

FRLA has hosted several press conferences and briefings with tourism industry leaders to enforce the message that Florida is open for business. Affected hoteliers and restaurateurs are encouraged to contact the BP Claims Hotline at 800.440.0858 immediately to begin the claims process.

FRLA Quoted in Article on

MAY 20, 2010 —  FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover comments on misconceptions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s effects on Florida’s shoreline and the damage these misconceptions are causing to tourism in the Panhandle.

Read more.