Well, it’s officially back to school time for many of us at home and that begins to include our guests. To tap into that, I think it’s important to highlight some of the wonderful community events that have helped contribute to the education of the guests and residents in the area.

This past month, Visit Pensacola hosted the inaugural Discovery Days Celebration. The two-day event focused on the founding of America’s First Settlement as well as the other nearly 460 years of history our area holds. The celebration included storytelling sessions with historian John Appleyard, a Discover Pensacola Trolley Tour and site activations. I’m happy to relay that both days boasted standing room only sessions and a sold-out tour. I’d like to thank all our partners that contributed, and I’m pleased to say that we’ll be doing this again next year.

Additionally, this past month the Visit Pensacola team and I have been focusing on fiscal year 2019. It has been an excellent opportunity for us as an organization to look both inside and outside our markets for inspiration as to what is working and what is next in our industry. In working with organizations such as Destination Next, Destination Think and the U.S. Travel Association through its annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), one message seemed consistent throughout, the importance of our community.

Currently, our industry is experiencing a continental shift in which the local community is a key player in the success of the visitor experience. Ultimately, for our industry to be successful we need to work to ensure that that Pensacola is a dynamic place to live and work by creating economic, cultural and personal opportunity. At this time, it is crucial to we keep communicating the value of tourism to our residents so that they fully understand the connection and impact it has on them. Without their support, the industry could experience significant setbacks; therefore, it is up to all of us to engage in our local community. 

Some exciting news to add, earlier today Visit Pensacola announced its 2018-19 grant recipients. Twice a year, Visit Pensacola allocates funds from its annual budget to a grant program for local groups and organizations to coordinate events or visitor experiences with a demonstrated history of visitor impact or significant potential to draw visitors to the area.

This is an exciting time in our community as we gear up for another fun, full season of events. I look forward to welcoming a new wave of travelers with all of you.

Hospitably,

Steve Hayes, Visit Pensacola President