Chris Thompson President and Chief Executive Officer of Brand USA headlined Visit Sarasota County’s National Travel and Tourism Week Luncheon

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Chris Thompson President and Chief Executive Officer of Brand USA headlined Visit Sarasota County’s National Travel and Tourism Week Luncheon

Voice of Sarasota Tourism Recipient Named

Sarasota, FL (May 3, 2018)–Visit Sarasota County (VSC) celebrated the 2018 National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) today at a luncheon held at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Keynote speaker Chris Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brand USA, the destination marketing agency for the USA, unveiled highlights from their exciting new IMAX giant screen film “America’s Musical Journey” as a creative way they promote the diversity of the U.S. among sharing his vision and future for tourism in the US.

VSC also announced Sarasota Ski-a-Rees Water Ski Show Team, as the recipient of the Voice of Sarasota Award.  The VSC Board of Directors choose the Voice of Sarasota winner based on the Sarasota Ski-a-Rees ability to build positive awareness of Sarasota County and affect tourism through their programs, outreach and actions.  With a stunning Star Wars theme performance, the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees where chosen for bringing national attention to Sarasota when they became national champions in Rockford, IL at the 43rd Indmar Marine Engines Division 1 Show Ski National Championships. Furthermore, they have been thrilling visitors year after year with their free performances at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota.

“The hard-earned recognition of the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees is a testament of their  commitment to the sport and their passion for the Sarasota community,” says Steven High, chair of Visit Sarasota Board of Directors and executive director of The Ringling. “Throughout the Ski-A-Rees journey, their appreciation and pride for Sarasota is always evident and inspires fellow tourism partners to emulate their success. We are proud to have the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees as a part of our tourism community.”

Additional awards bestowed upon members of the travel and tourism industry are as follows:

  • Stephanie Brown of Siesta Key Oyster Bar was awarded the Guest Service Excellence – Management award recognizing exemplary Management-level service consistently provided to guests.
  • Sally Krause of The Resort at Longboat Key Club was honored with the Guest Service Excellence: Front Line award. This award recognizes exemplary service consistently provided to guests by an individual who is in direct contact with the public daily.
  • Marcia Carlson Pack of The Circus Arts Conservatory was honored with the Guest Service Excellence – Heart of House award. This award honors a Heart of House staff member who consistently adheres to a high standard of excellence.
  • De Emerick, volunteer with Marie Selby Botanical Gardens was honored with the Guest Service Excellence – Volunteer award. This award encourages and recognizes citizens for a volunteers’ commitment to enhancing the guest experience.
  • Asa Thomas with Art Ovation was honored with the Sarasota County Rising Star Award recognizes an emerging leader within the tourism industry.

Sponsors of the event are as follows: Michael Saunders & Company, The Ringling, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Miles Partnership, Ocean Properties Hotels & Resorts, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, Atlanta Braves Spring Training Facility, Downs & St. Germain Research, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

For more information about National Travel and Tourism Week please visit



Visit Sarasota County leads and supports the tourism industry in Sarasota County by providing the highest quality, and most innovative, marketing programs and promotions to ensure the continued growth of tourism and travel from visitors around the world.  It is the mission of VSC to make Sarasota County the must experience destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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