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Last week's senseless attacks in Paris were tragic and our thoughts and prayers go out to the French people and everyone affected by this terrorism. But unfortunately, this event has resulted in several of our nation's Congressional lawmakers re-examining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for potential security gaps. It's important during times like this to communicate a better understanding of the VWP, without resorting to a quick overreaction that dismisses the facts about this important program.
The truth is that the VWP not only facilitates inbound travel to the United States but also protects our homeland by requiring pre-screening of travelers who are pre-approved through the program. It also enables greater information sharing through enhanced international partnerships with law enforcement and intelligence services and making passports more secure for participating countries. You can send an email to your Senators and Representative to let them know that now is the time to defend this tried and true security program and champion policies such as the VWP that keep travel safe and secure.
By the way, we would like to remind you that now is also the time to register for Visit Orlando's Annual Meeting and Luncheon, presented by Emirates, on Dec. 8. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich will deliver a powerful keynote presentation along with other opportunities to reflect on the great year for tourism we've had in Central Florida. We hope to see you there.
With more than 75 restaurants participating and the addition of a special preview week, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month raised a record $111,604 for Foundation for Foster Children. The donation is a 50 percent increase over the year prior and, since 2009, the program has raised $340,416 for local charities.
Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month takes place each September, offering locals and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy Orlando's emerging culinary scene through three-course prix-fixe dinners for $33. This year's program featured James Beard-nominated chefs, including Brandon McGlamery of Luma on Park and Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant, as well as celebrity chef restaurants Emeril Lagasse and Todd English. As the charitable beneficiary, Foundation for Foster Children received $1 from every meal served.
With an industry employing more than 380,000 people directly and indirectly, it is important to help inspire and shape the future leaders of Orlando's tourism community. What better time than World Tourism Day. Last week more than 75 students from the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management shadowed industry professionals to learn more about the variety of career opportunities available right in our own backyard.
Students participated in a full day of educational, hands-on experiences, paired with the employer that best suited thier career interests. From theme park management to lodging operations and event planning to convention sales, the program opens student's eyes and provides a realistic 'day in the life.' National activities surrounding World Tourism Day started in 1980 and are coordinated by The World Tourism Organization.
As part of its corporate social responsibility initiative, Discover Tourism, Visit Orlando partnered with the Boys & Girls Club to educate students about the industry’s limitless possibilities. Students began the day at Visit Orlando where they learned about the overall impact of travel and tourism on Central Florida, Visit Orlando’s role and the diverse career opportunities available.
The students then visited Rosen College to learn about hospitality management education and tour the campus. They ended the day by participating in a food demonstration activity with Chef Frank Coupland. To read more and view photos, click here
Visit Orlando recently held its 18th
Annual Golf Tournament at the Walt Disney World Palm Golf Course. The event provides
members an opportunity to network with industry professionals and raise money
for a worthy cause at the same time. Thanks to the support of Title Sponsor GES
and those who participated in the tournament, Visit Orlando was able to present
a check valued at $17,000 to Marianne Gray of Freedom Ride.
Freedom Ride is a local non-profit,
volunteer-based organization built on the belief that people are not bound by
their physical limitations. The team at Freedom Ride is dedicated to enriching
lives and experiences of children and adults with disabilities in Central
Florida through therapeutic horseback riding and related activities.
Since its inception in 2006, Visit Orlando’s Annual Golf Tournament has raised nearly $200,000 for local charities.
Join us as we celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) taking place May 3-11. With one third of Orlando area residents employed in hospitality, this is a community-wide effort recognizing the industry's impact on Central Florida.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will kick-off the celebration by presenting proclamations to Visit Orlando and the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association. There will be exciting events and activities throughout the week, and we encourage you to get involved.
National Travel & Tourism Member Luncheon
When: May 9 @ 11:30 a.m.
Where: Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
How to register: http://www.cvent.com/d/44q2xg
Orlando Travel & Tourism Makes Me Smile Bowl-a-Thon
When: May 9 @ 5 p.m. OR May 10, @ 11:30 a.m.
Where: KING's Bowl
How to register: http://www.cvent.com/d/s4q18q
I-Drive 5K Run
When: May 10 @ 7:30 a.m.
Where: Pointe Orlando
How to register: http://www.trackshack.com/events-detail.php?id=113
Visit Orlando had the opportunity to take part in "Women Going for the Green" on Monday, March 31 at Universal CityWalk's Rising Star. Visit Orlando's Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Courtenay was featured with two other panelists, Susie Lokey, senior director of marketing at Golf Channel, Alice Norsworthy, EVP marketing and sales at Universal Orlando, and Ybeth Bruzual from Central Florida News 13 as the moderator.
Courtenay gave insight on how Visit Orlando brands Orlando as a destination and more specifically, the different strategies for connecting with female market. Highlighting Visit Orlando's global TV spot and recent "May is for little ones" commercial, Courtenay discussed different approaches the team takes in ensuring campaigns target women, the primary decision maker when it comes to planning vacations.
Students from Junior Achievement of Central Florida had the opportunity to gain an inside perspective of why tourism matters here in Orlando. About 250 high school freshmen and sophomores arrived at the JA Academy at Oak Ridge High School for a presentation by Danielle Courtenay, Visit Orlando's Chief Marketing Officer on Tuesday, February 11.
The JA students were able to discover more about Orlando's theme parks, entertainment venues, convention center and hotels as well as learn the city they live in hosted more than 57 million visitors just last year and is poised to break yet another record. They were able to gain insight on the specific role Visit Orlando plays around the globe and the potential careers the industry can lead to.
Courtenay highlighted how two out of every five workers who first took a job in the travel industry are now earning more than $100,000 per year and, one-third of all part-time employees furthering their education work in leisure and hospitality. Numbers that are sure to inspire our industry's future leaders.
Junior Achievement programs make a connection between lessons learned in the classroom and real-world applications - through relevant, interactive programming. Visit Orlando is proud to continue its support and involvement with JA of Central Florida.
Whether it be volunteering, making a financial contribution, or writing our servicemen a holiday card, there are endless ways to give back this holiday season. This year, instead of a traditional holiday toy drive, Visit Orlando team members gathered together to collect Publix gift cards for children and families at Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center. In total, more than $550 was collected as part of the holiday drive. On behalf of the travel and tourism industry, Visit Orlando hopes that this small contribution will help put food on the table and a smile on the faces of several children and families in need.
With more than 60 of Orlando's most popular restaurants participating, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month raised a record $74,467 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida. Since 2009, the program has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for local charities.
Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month takes place each September, offering locals and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy Orlando's emerging culinary scene through three-course prix-fixe dinners for $33.
This year's program featured James Beard-nominated chefs, including Brandon McGlamery of Luma on Park and Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant, as well as celebrity chef restaurants Emeril Lagasse and Todd English. As the charitable beneficiary, Ronald McDonald House received $1 from every meal served.