Keeping Travel Safe and Secure

Orlando International Airport

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.


Register Now for Visit Orlando's Annual Meeting

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, there's not a lot of time to register for Visit Orlando's Annual Meeting and luncheon on Dec. 8 at Rosen's Shingle Creek Resort. As a destination, our entire tourism community pulled together this year to achieve what all indications suggest will be another historic, record-breaking year for our community. As a friend of tourism you won't want to miss the recap of 2015 and "look ahead" at what's in store for 2016.

If you haven't heard, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has accepted our invitation to share his outlook on next year's economy and Presidential race, as well as the resulting effects on our businesses community. Our local business and Central Florida community leaders alike will surely find this very special keynote presentation fascinating.

Please join Visit Orlando's Chairman of our Board of Directors Peter Kacheris for what promises to be a memorable event. Click here for registration information.


Job Shadow Offers Insight Into Industry

2014 Rosen Job Shadow


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. 


Fred Shea Named Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services


Fred Shea named senior vice president of convention sales. 

Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel today announced the promotion of Fred Shea to senior vice president of Convention Sales and Services for the nation's premier destination tourism association, effective immediately.

"After an extensive, nationwide executive search, we were delighted to find that Fred demonstrated unequivocally that he had the experience, credentials and national recognition that we were looking for," said Aguel. "Fred has been highly respected in our industry for many years due to his sales knowledge and service-orientation."


Visit Orlando hires industry veteran George Armando Aguel as president & CEO


George Aguel Headshot

On behalf of its board of directors, Visit Orlando Chair Paul Mears III today named George Armando Aguel president and chief executive officer of the nation's premier destination marketing organization.

Aguel brings a tremendous amount of experience to his new role at Visit Orlando, including more than 35 years of executive-level experience in sales and marketing. Most recently as senior vice president of Global Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants at The Walt Disney Company, he led worldwide management for the company's strategic corporate alliance agreements across all business units of the company. Aguel also served as senior vice president of Worldwide Sales and Services for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for 22 years. His responsibilities included catering sales and operations, convention services, national and international sales offices, trade marketing, Disney Cruise Line charter and incentive business, as well as internal corporate meetings and events. He was also general manager of The Disney Institute, which provides professional development training and consulting services to a diverse audience of domestic and multinational corporate brands.

Throughout his career, Aguel has proven himself to be a leader in the industry, as well as in the community. He has twice been recognized as one of the "25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing" by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. He is among a select group of industry professionals to receive the Academy of Leaders Award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and be inducted into the Convention Liaison Council Hall of Leaders. He's also an ASAE Fellow and recipient of the Professional Convention Management Association Professional Achievement Award and the APEX award from Black Meetings & Tourism. He has served as chairman of Meeting Professionals International and a board member of numerous industry groups.


Gary Sain inducted into U.S. Travel Association Hall of Leaders


 Pam and Vanessa Hall of Leaders picture

Former Visit Orlando President & CEO Gary Sain was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Travel Association's Hall of Leaders on November 29. Sain passed away May of 2012. The Hall of Leaders was established in 1969 as part of U.S. Travel's National Awards Program to recognize individual contributions to the travel and tourism industry.

Induction to the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders is the single highest and most revered honor an individual in the travel and tourism industry can receive. Inductees into the Hall of Leaders are "individuals who have made sustained, noteworthy contributions that have had a positive impact on the broad travel and tourism industry." Visit Orlando COO/CFO Larry Henrichs and Visit Orlando Chairman Paul Tang attended the event along with Gary's wife Pam and their daughter Vanessa.


Gary Sain Café dedicated at Orange County Convention Center


Pam Teresa Plaque

Recently, the Orange County Convention Center along with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs honored former Visit Orlando President/CEO Gary Sain by renaming a prominent meeting space at the Center. The Osprey Café now proudly bares the Gary Sain Café moniker. Sain passed away in June from a heart attack. More than 75 close industry colleagues, friends and family attended the dedication ceremony. Also announced was a dramatic redesign of the Café which is located on the second floor of the West building of the Convention Center.

Sain led Visit Orlando from 2007 to 2012 during which time the destination became the first city to break the 50 million visitor mark. In 2011, Orlando again broke a record with 55 million visitors. Sain was staunch advocate for securing more meetings and conventions for Orlando, as well as increasing leisure travel - both domestically and internationally.


Gary Sain Cafe Moniker


Gary Sain Services

Gary C. Sain, 1950-2012

Gary Sain seated

Gary C. Sain started with Visit Orlando in February 2007 as the leader of the organization that markets and sells the Orlando area as the No. 1 family leisure destination in the world, and one of the top meetings and convention destinations in America. He is credited with Orlando reaching a record of 51.5 million visitors in 2010, the first U.S. destination to surpass the 50 million visitor milestone.

As a leading figure in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, Sain frequently touted the benefits of travel as well as the industry's importance to the economy as a vehicle for economic development and prosperity. Known in the industry as a marketing and branding expert, Sain leveraged these strengths while at Visit Orlando to develop several leisure advertising programs for the destination. These initiatives include the Orlando Makes Me Smile branding, the 2nd Summer and Be the First leisure marketing campaigns, as well as the Inspiration and Influencer campaigns for the business travel market.

For the Visit Orlando team, Gary looked to inspire his colleagues to be the best and provide the utmost in customer service to their clients. Always full of new ideas and challenges, Gary also took a personal interest in his employees, not as a boss, but as a leader looking to inspire them professionally and personally. Through his guidance, Visit Orlando created employee-wellness programs, diversity initiatives and culture-building projects. He will truly be missed by all that worked by his side.

Service and Arrangements - Open to the Public

Visitation will take place from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, May 11, at Baldwin Fairchild Funeral Home, 301 N.E. Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando, FL 32804; 407-898-8111.

Additional visitation will take place at 10 a.m., immediately prior to the Celebration of Life and Funeral Service set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, at Northland, A Church Distributed, located at 530 Dog Track Road, Longwood, FL 32759; 407-949-4000.

For those unable to attend, the Celebration of Life service will be webcast beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 12 via Northland, A Church Distributed. To access the webcast, reference the "What's Current" section on their homepage. 

Immediately following the service, burial will take place at The Palm Cemetery located at 1005 South New York Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789; 407-599-3252.

Scholarships Set Up 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made in Gary's honor to one of two funds. For the Gary C. Sain Memorial Endowed Scholarship for the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management, instructions are as follows: 

• Gifts using credit cards: Please go to the UCF Foundation Rosen College of Hospitality Management donation website. In the first section, "Donation Information," input the amount of the gift and then in same section under "Designation," please choose the "Gary C. Sain Memorial Endowed Scholarship" in the drop down menu. Please complete the rest of the form and click "Donate Now."

• Checks: Please make checks payable to The UCF Foundation, write Gary C. Sain Memorial Endowed Scholarship on the memo line, and mail to:

UCF Foundation
12424 Research Parkway, Suite 140
Orlando, FL 32826

For wire transfers, stock, and mutual fund gifts, please contact Lori Cosmides at or 407-903-8249.

The Destination & Travel Foundation also has established a memorial fund in the name of Gary C. Sain to honor his leadership and legacy in the destination marketing industry. Donations can be mailed to:

Destination & Travel Foundation
2025 M St. NW Ste. 500
Washington, DC 20036

You can also donate online at

Accomodations for Those Traveling to Orlando 

For those traveling to Orlando for Gary's services, the Rosen Shingle Creek is extending a special Friends & Family rate of $89 per night. Call 407-996-9939 and ask for reservations, or call reservations directly at 866-996-6338, ask for Rosen Shingle Creek, and identify the guestroom block for the Sain Family Memorial


Gary Sain: In His Own Words

With the passing of Visit Orlando President & CEO Gary Sain, We thought it appropriate to post an article that was published in Orlando Magazine in 2008 in which Gary shares his personal life story.

 Gary Sain: In Their Own Words article  (3.23MB)



Vote Travel Bus Visits Orlando for Travel Rally Day

Travel Rally Day Bus Group shot 

More than 100 industry employees participated in Travel Rally Day on May 1 at Pointe Orlando with the Vote Travel Bus providing the backdrop. U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow, Visit Orlando President and CEO Gary Sain, CFHLA President Rich Maladecki and State Representative Mike Horner spoke about the benefits of Travel & Tourism and encouraged the crowd to get involved with their local, state and federal elected officials and educate them on the benefits of a thriving Travel & Tourism Industry. In Orlando, nearly 380,000 residents are employed in the industry earning $13.4 billion in wages. Orlando's Travel & Tourism Industry has led the way in job creation in over the past 18 months and the total number of visitors in 2011 is expected to top 54 million when numbers are released later this month.


Travel Rally Day Sign picture 

The Travel Rally Bus has made stops in cities like Las Vegas, New York, Miami and New Orleans as it crisscrosses the country espousing the many benefits of travel to residents, the industry and elected officials. To learn more about how you can get involved in the process go to or text "travel" to 877877


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