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TALLAHASSEE, FL — For the first time ever, VISIT FLORIDA has a female President and CEO in charge following a unanimous vote of its Board of Directors.
Dana Young, a sixth-generation Floridian, will assume her new role on Jan. 9 after serving as a senator for District 18 in Hillsborough County. Young also served in the Florida House from 2010 to 2016, rising to House Republican Leader.
Governor-elect Ron DeSantis called Young an “exceptional leader” and commended her for “working tirelessly” to improve the quality of life for all Floridians.
“Her leadership ability and experience make her an excellent candidate to lead VISIT FLORIDA in its mission to maximize the economic impact of travel and tourism to our state,” said DeSantis. “I look forward to working with Dana, who will be the first woman to lead VISIT FLORIDA, to strengthen our tourism industry and build on the economic success of our great state.”
Young’s appointment comes at a time of record growth in tourism for Florida. According to Lino Maldonado, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, the state’s tourism industry has achieved seven consecutive years of record visitation and visitor spending, with the latest economic impact study showing that visitors spent US$112 billion and supported 1.4 million Florida jobs.
Young thanked DeSantis and the Board of Directors for the opportunity to lead VISIT FLORIDA, saying: “As a Floridian, with a family tradition of public service, I understand the vital importance of tourism to our state and look forward to working with industry businesses to inspire travel to Florida, stimulate the economy and create more jobs.
Young’s predecessor, Ken Lawson, left his role as CEO to take over the reins of the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), as reported in December 2018. Lawson’s appointment in Jan. 2017 came after the resignation of three Visit Florida executives in the wake of the Pitbull scandal, which resulted in outgoing Governor Rick Scott calling for the resignation of Lawson’s predecessor, Will Seccombe.