Leads team of “Sunshine Ambassadors” on four-city tour to

invite winter-weary northerners to the Sunshine State

Feb 28 2011; Tallahassee, FL – After a brutally harsh winter for many Americans, Florida Governor Rick Scott and VISIT FLORIDA®, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, have organized the “Share a Little Sunshine Tour” to invite those hit hardest by this year’s unseasonably cold weather to defrost in sunny Florida.  Governor Scott and the rest of the “Sunshine Ambassadors” will start their two-day tour March 1 in Orlando and make stops in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago.  When the whirlwind tour ends in the Windy City, 120 lucky winners will board a chartered plane and return to Orlando with the Governor to take a much-needed break from the worst winter many have seen in decades.

“Jobs and economic development are two of the most important issues we face as a state and a nation,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.  “Tourism is an important economic engine for Florida and employs nearly one million residents, I am proud to lead VISIT FLORIDA’s Share a Little Sunshine campaign to bring more visitors to the Sunshine State.  We know that every 85 visitors create one Florida job, so I urge all Floridians to join with me in supporting this effort to increase jobs and grow the state’s economy.”

Residents and fans can be part of the Share a Little Sunshine campaign by visiting ShareALittleSunshine.org to send a personalized e-postcard inviting someone to Florida.  They can also post photos and comments, find ‘Sunshine Deals’ and share  Florida travel information by joining the nearly 25,000 followers of Share a Little Sunshine on Facebook at facebook.com/FloridaSunshine.

As the No. 1 industry in the state, tourism is big business in Florida – there are more people visiting the Sunshine State on any given day than live in twelve U.S. states.  In fact, tourism is so significant that it generates more than one fifth of the state’s sales tax revenue.

“We are grateful that the Governor continues to acknowledge the importance of tourism to the state’s economy by participating in this fast-paced, fun-filled tour of several of Florida’s key visitor markets,” said Ed Fouché, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Senior Vice President–Travel Industry Sales for Disney Destinations.

The tour begins on March 1 at 8:30 a.m. with a rally at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando.  The public is invited to attend the event where Governor Scott, VISIT FLORIDA, Visit Orlando, the Partnership for Florida’s Tourism and others will be encouraging residents to participate in VISIT FLORIDA’s “Share a Little Sunshine” program by sending personal invitations to their out-of-state friends and family to visit the Sunshine State. The rally will conclude with a send-off for Governor Scott, who will lead the charge as the team takes off for its first stop in Washington, D.C., speaking to potential visitors and awarding great Florida vacation prizes along the way.

“The Share a Little Sunshine campaign was created as a fun, easy way for residents to invite friends and family to Florida, and having Governor Scott take time to extend a personal invitation to everyone he meets on this tour to visit the Sunshine State takes the program to a whole new level,” said Chris Thompson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “We know this has been an extremely difficult winter for many around the country, so we’re happy to be sharing a little sunshine with our neighbors to the north.”

Throughout the two-day tour, Governor Scott and the rest of the Sunshine State squad will be hosting special events and giving away Florida vacation packages to promotion winners.  The tour concludes on March 2 at Midway Airport in Chicago as the Governor escorts a plane full of prize winners who will depart that evening for a four-day stay in Orlando.  Southwest Airlines, Walt Disney World and dozens of other VISIT FLORIDA partners have come together to help create the vacation packages being given away to winners in each market.

“So many organizations have come together to help VISIT FLORIDA make this tour a reality,” said Will Seccombe, Chief Marketing Officer for VISIT FLORIDA.  “I would especially like to thank our Florida tourism industry partners and trade associations, without whose efforts this event would not have been possible.”

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