Visit Florida Tourism CEO Dana Young, Employees Get Raises – CBS Miami

Visit Florida Tourism CEO Dana Young, Employees Get Raises - CBS Miami

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young received an 8 percent raise and $ 7,500 bonus Tuesday when tourism marketing agency leaders indicated Florida was in a “position of strength “against other states to get out of the corona pandemic.

Visit Florida’s board of directors, which met in person for the first time in more than a year at the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa in Jensen Beach, also directed Young to distribute up to $ 130,000 in benefit increases to employees.

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“She has led our recovery and we are increasing market share,” said outgoing Chairman Dan Rowe of Young, whose salary will rise from $ 175,000 a year to $ 189,000 after July 1.

Young’s salary currently comes from government and private funds, with taxpayers covering $ 120,000. With the vote on Tuesday, the board shifted their entire salary to private sources.

“I think it’s sending a strong message that it is the Florida private sector that wants to support our CEO and his work,” said board member Virginia Haley, director of Visit Sarasota County. “To hear that it was such a painstaking, rather lengthy, thought-out process that it was being assessed, reviewed, should, in my opinion, give our political leaders a measure of confidence that it was done in a very thoughtful way.”

The staff increases, along with Young’s bonus, are also said to come from private sources.

Board member Frank Belzer, a former senior vice president of sales at Universal Parks and Resorts, said Florida should feel “embarrassed” about its pay to public-private agency officials.

“You think about a state like California without going into detail, a person in Dana’s position probably makes four to five times what Dana makes,” Belzer said. “And they have wine. And they have industry and they have technology. We have tourism. We have this. And we should be ashamed. And I hope this is the first step in attracting Visit Florida professionals and preserving the talent we have developed. “

Employees haven’t seen any salary increases since 2019, when the agency cut a third of its 135 employees. That came after lawmakers cut funding for the tourism marketing agency by 34 percent.

The board on Tuesday also approved a budget of $ 121.2 million for the next fiscal year, including $ 50 million from the state. Another $ 5 million is included in spending by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency through a state stimulus bill known as the CARES Act.

Another $ 25 million in federal pandemic stimulus funding through the American Rescue Plan Act is expected but is not included in the budget as the state has not yet received the money.

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Private tourism groups and corporations are expected to provide $ 9.1 million in cash and $ 54.1 million in “cooperative advertising” and other compensation expenses.

The budget is an operating loss of $ 3.1 million due to a required game for federal funds.

Salaries and benefits for 76 positions are $ 8.5 million, contributing to a 3.4 percent increase in health care costs.

Florida’s tourism industry improved in the first three months of 2021, but visitor numbers still fell 14 percent year over year as the state continues to grapple with the pandemic.

However, officials said they believe Florida is better positioned to rebound because of the reopening efforts started last summer, while many other large states are a year behind.

“For a year that felt like much, much longer, Visit Florida and the Florida tourism industry stuck on it,” said Staci Mellman, Visit Florida’s chief financial officer. “We are already leading the Sunshine State into its recovery and fortunately we are starting this comeback from a position of strength.”

The state spent $ 18.8 million on marketing the state last year, starting with state marketing last summer, and is now preparing for the international markets that will emerge from the pandemic lockdown, Mellman said.

Visit Florida recently reported that outbound travel was down 74.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, after falling 70.4 percent for all of 2020 from 2019.

Florida attracted 26.162 million domestic and international visitors from January 1 to March 31, up from 30.4 million tourists in the first quarter of 2020 when the Florida pandemic hit Florida, when theme parks closed and Major League Baseball canceled spring training .

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(© 2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite, or redistribute this material. Jim Turner, Florida News Service contributed to this report.)

Joseph Hubbard

Joseph Hubbard is a seasoned journalist passionate about uncovering stories and reporting on events that shape our world. With a strong background in journalism, he has dedicated his career to providing accurate, unbiased, and insightful news coverage to the public.

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