Last week we joined hands with those across the country to celebrate the 38th annual National Travel & Tourism Week. Together, we celebrated the U.S. travel industry’s contributions, alongside ours right here in Sarasota County.
Each year, NTTW is an opportunity to remind visitors and residents of the incredible value the travel industry holds not just for our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture, and to remind policymakers of travel’s ability to help power recovery efforts. Not only does our industry help the economy, we also foster family and friends coming together to connect and make memories.
Travel and tourism are such an important part of what Sarasota County is. We all know how beloved our local attractions are to us as residents and to those who visit our gorgeous coast. Not only do we rely on leisure visitors to keep our workforce going, but the various groups that travel to our area – both business and sports – also play an important role. That is why it is important for us to work to ensure we are targeting a variety of visitors to ensure our diverse room inventory stays full weekdays and weekends both in peak season and the shoulder season. Our industry works tirelessly to do just this, so every May we celebrate them and their hard work.
This year was no exception. On May 6, we held a virtual event to honor our industry. We came together to celebrate the accomplishments of the year and to honor those who go above and beyond to ensure Sarasota County shines on the national and international stage. Every year during this time we bestow the “Voice of Sarasota” award to a local who the Visit Sarasota County Board of Directors feels is working tirelessly to do just that.
This year we were proud to choose local historian Jeff LaHurd to receive this honor. And with 2021 being the Centennial for Sarasota County, our board could not think of a better time to honor Jeff with this award.
Jeff is a local author and historian who has lived in Sarasota since 1950 and has written 17 books about the history of the community plus numerous articles which have appeared in this newspaper, Sarasota Magazine, SRQ Magazine and The Downtowner. He is a sought-after speaker and has given numerous lectures on the history of Sarasota County. He retired in May 2015 as the History Specialist for Sarasota County Government, but his love for our community and our history lives on in his enthusiasm and work. Congratulations to Jeff for being chosen as Visit Sarasota County’s Voice of Sarasota for 2021.
And while we’re celebrating our industry, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the hard work of local restaurant staff. This industry worked throughout the entire pandemic to ensure that we were all fed (including our beloved first responders!) with the delectable treats that our restaurateurs are known for.
The 16th Annual Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week, scheduled for June 1-14, couldn’t come at a better time as we are looking to indulge in the multi-course menus this restaurant week is known for. Save the dates, and check out SavorSarasota.com to start planning where you’d like to dine. We have a bunch of your favorites coming back again – such as Michael’s on East and Crab & Fin, some fabulous waterfront options like Farlow’s on The Water and Fins at Sharky’s – as well as some of the newest restaurants in the area like The Bistro at the Sarasota Art Museum.
I salute the workers in our community who have kept the beds made at our accommodations, who have answered the questions of those visiting our local exhibitions and who have smiled at those seated outdoors in their restaurants. The tourism industry makes Sarasota County the vibrant and welcoming place we all know and love. While my team and I appreciate you every day and celebrate you every year in May during National Travel and Tourism Week, it seems a bit sweeter this year to all stand together and look at how much we bring to this community.
Virginia Haley is the president of Visit Sarasota County. She can be reached at 941-955-0991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally Appeared On: https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/business/briefs/2021/05/10/virginia-haley-celebrating-power-travel/4937456001/