Visit Pensacola Highlights Tourism Industry Resiliency and Successes at 2021 Annual Meeting, Launches The Way to Beach™


Media Contact:

Nicole Stacey
Visit Pensacola
(850) 434-2142

Annual Meeting Group Photo

Pensacola, Fla. – Visit Pensacola's incoming board members and officers were welcomed at Wednesday’s annual meeting by staff, industry leaders, tourism partners, and community members. The annual meeting marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for the organization and showcases the industry's achievements. This year, Visit Pensacola announced the launch of its new brand, The Way to Beach™.

"This past year we’ve seen difficult challenges met with determination by our hospitality and tourism industry. To support our destination and its future efforts we felt strongly that we needed to evolve the Visit Pensacola brand into something that told our destinations’ story completely,” Visit Pensacola President and CEO Darien Schaefer said.

“The Way to Beach™ is Pensacola because we’re not just any beach with beautiful water and white sand – we have arts, we have food, we have neighborhoods, and we have a community that makes this truly the best destination to live, work, play, and visit.”

Along with announcing the brand, Schaefer shared that Escambia County had a record-breaking year across the board including record average daily rates (ADR), occupancy, and tourism development tax collections (TDT). In fiscal year 2021, $17,671,461 in TDT dollars was collected, an increase of 59.9% over FY 20, and 23.3% over FY 19.

Adding to the 2021 fiscal year industry successes, Schaefer highlighted a detailed list of Visit Pensacola’s leading accomplishments:

  • Launched six new marketing campaigns that were seen by more than 156 million travelers.
  • Supported and serviced 230 tourism partners in the Pensacola Bay Area community.
  • Assisted in hosting the inaugural Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championship that garnered over $1,600,000 in economic impact in Escambia County.
  • Commissioned a Unique Emotional Positioning Focus Group and Lifestyle Segmentation Study to better reach potential Pensacola Bay Area visitors.
  • Garnered $26,552,125 in destination sales.

Engaged in building on that energy, incoming Board Chair Deandra Holcomb, Owner of Ho2 Dolphin tours, remarked on her vision for the upcoming year.

“Pensacola has many unique stories to tell and that’s why we are The Way to Beach™. Areas of focus for the 2022 fiscal year will be strategic planning through 2030, increasing tourism partner participation in marketing the destination, and increasing local awareness of how Tourism Works forEscambia County,” Holcomb said.

“Creating awareness about the economic impact and overall value of tourism in our community is imperative. Residents should know that every dollar spent on tourism marketing generates $3 in tax revenue and that visitors tax revenue saves each household $492 in taxes per year, it’s all pretty impressive.”

Serving with Board Chair Deandra Holcomb for the 2022 fiscal year will be:

Officers and Board of Directors Chair: 

  • Deandra Holcomb, Ho2 Dolphin Tours
  • Vice-Chair/At-Large: Brent Lane, Cat Country 98.7/ADX Communications
  • Treasurer/Lodging/Pensacola Beach: Gabe DiCianni, Innisfree Hotels
  • Secretary/At-Large: Rachel Gillette, Studer Community Institute
  • At-Large: Cindi McCalip, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation
  • Arts/Culture/History: Sid Williams-Heath, Pensacola Little Theatre, Pensacola Cultural Center
  • Lodging/Perdido Key: Tim Carn, Southern Vacation Rentals
  • Lodging/Downtown/Airport: Amanda Mills, Hilton Garden Inn Pensacola Airport
  • Dining/Entertainment: Warren Sonnen, O’Riley’s Irish Pub
  • Lodging/Mainland: Jatin Bhakta, North Florida Hotels
  • Sports/Recreation: David Kemp, Gulf Coast Texans

For more information on tourism in the Pensacola Bay Area or to get involved, visit

About Visit Pensacola

Visit Pensacola is the destination organization for Escambia County which includes Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. With over 450 years of rich history and 18 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordered by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors from all over the world are lured to our pristine shores every year. Visit Pensacola supports the community vision of tourism by serving as the central body responsible for building tourism as an economic engine for our community through leadership, connection, collaboration and communication.