BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Tourism Development Council announced the recipients of the 2019 Hospitality & Tourism Awards at a recent TDC meeting held during National Tourism Week.
Lilian Mariani, the first mate at Space Coast River Tours, was recognized as the 2019 Hospitality Specialist of the Year.
For seven years, she has been greeting passengers as they board and offers assistance when needed.
Underway, she serves passengers soft drinks and snacks, answers questions, tells awesome stories and hands out blankets if it gets chilly.
She has years of travel experience, speaks five languages and just celebrated her 84th birthday.
Dave Spain, previous owner and manager of the Comfort Inn & Suites (now the Quality Inn & Suites) was awarded the Solomon Portrait of Excellence.
Now retired, he leaves behind a strong tourism legacy. TDC member Debra Green paralleled his 50-year tourism journey to the 50-year anniversary of man’s launch and landing on the moon.
Just as a new milestone is being reached for the renewed Space Race, Spain has started a milestone of his own called “retirement.”
We thank him for the tourism partnerships he has brought to the table, his vast participation in our committees and to the patriotism he has shown all these years.
Spring Sets All-time Tourist Tax Record
Tourism is a $2.1 billion-a-year industry in Brevard County and is responsible for more than 26,000 jobs.
Collections of the tourist tax for the first time ever topped $2 million for a single month as in March, the 5 percent tourist tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals generated $2.1 million.
That’s a more than 6 percent increase from the $1.9 million the tax generated in March 2018.
“Across the tourism sector, there has been good performance,” said Space Coast Office of Tourism Director Peter Cranis. “I think we have some good months ahead of us.”
Surfing into Space
A 20-foot-plus sculpture, depicting a surfer launching into space, was conceived by Cocoa Beach artist Henry Lund and designed and built by Cocoa Beach artist Patrick Pacifico.
The icon was installed by the new parking garage in Cocoa Beach. The sculpture pays tribute to our surfing heritage dating back to the 1950s when a core group of surfers with their plank-like long boards regularly made their trek up from South Florida to Cocoa Beach and Melbourne beaches.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, the second largest cruise ship in the world, is now based out of Port Canaveral. The Space Coast Office of Tourism welcomed Captain Johnny Faevelen and his crew during the traditional “plaque and key exchange” ceremony held onboard the massive ship.
“It was music to our ears to hear you would make us your home port,” she told the Captain. “Let’s move forward and make beautiful music together.”
The Space Coast Office of Tourism welcomes our new Finance Manager, Jeff Baron. He has been a Space Coast resident since 1984 and has over 20 years of financial experience with private and public organizations.
He earned an MBA from Florida Tech in Melbourne and a BSBA in Accounting from Robert Morris University in Pittsburg, PA. He and his wife, Lesley, live in Melbourne.
“The Right Stuff,” a new television series adapted from Tom Wolfe’s iconic account of the early days of the U.S. space program, will start filming this fall on the Space Coast.
Leonardo DiCaprio will be one of the executive producers and his company, Appian Way Productions, is collaborating on the project with National Geographic Partners and Warner Horizon Television.
Mark Lafferty, who will be an executive producer and showrunner leading the development of the series said, “ ‘The Right Stuff’ ” is about a “moment when the country looked in the same direction to achieve the stuff of fantasy, and on a timeline that was nearly impossible. The story is a reminder of what we’re capable of and also shows how much we’ve changed and diversified over time.”
Members of the Space Coast Office of Tourism staff and TDC members that attended the recent Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Astronaut Induction Dinner included Rebbeca and Bryan Lober, Melissa and Peter Cranis, Anna and Tom Palermo, Andrea Young and Bonnie King.
NASA astronaut Dan Brandenstein, who flew four space shuttle missions, sat with the group at dinner and told stories of his experiences.
Astronauts James Buchli and Janet Kavandi were inducted and honored at the dinner. Former naval aviator, test pilot and NASA astronaut Dan Brandenstein, who flew four space shuttle missions, sat with the group at dinner and told stories of his experiences.
The TDC Sports Committee has helped fund four sporting events so far this fiscal year that have brought in a total of 2,600 participants/competitors and hundreds of more fans, coaches and spectators.
These visitors tallied a total of 1,523 hotel room nights. Events included the 2018 Chiro Games in late October, TDO funded $20,000 resulting in 611 room nights at three area hotels with 597 athletes.
Softball Magazine’s Adult Senior Softball Camp in December 2018 was funded $3,650 resulting in 412 room nights at 13 area hotels with 135 athletes. The Florida Half-Century Softball Tournament in January 2019 was funded $3,500 resulting in 458 room nights at 21 area hotels with 1,734 athletes.
Explosive Sports National 7v7 Football Championship Regional Series held in April 2019 was funded $1,000 resulting in 42 room nights at three area hotels with 147 athletes.
TDC Partners with County to Remove Derelict Vessels
The Beach Committee of the Tourist Development Council recommended spending $112,500 to pair with the County’s $337,500 in order to remove 39 abandoned vessels in the Indian River Lagoon.
The TDC voted to move forward with the project and the Board of County Commissioners did the same when they approved the $337,500. The vessels pose a threat to those who use the waterways and pollute the river. The project will take a year to complete by the Natural Resources Department.
Space Coast in National Media
Melbourne has been named the number 1 place to live near the beach in Florida. The ranking was released by U.S. News & World Report.
Melbourne was judged on affordability, job market, the morning commute and access to quality health care. In addition, “Along with year-round warm weather and ample public beaches, the Melbourne area also is home to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.”
Satellite Beach Among Safest Communities
For the second year in a row, Satellite Beach was listed among Florida’s safest communities. This time it took the #1 slot. The National Council for Home Safety and Security uses the FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics, along with population data and internal research to come up with their findings.
Brevard Zoo Among Best
U.S. News & World Report has released its list of the country’s 30 best zoos and Brevard Zoo is one of them.
Author Kyle McCarthy praised the zoo’s one-of-a-kind adventures, such as kayak tours and zip lining; educational offerings and easy-to-navigate layout. “Central Floridians know Brevard Zoo is the go-to place for family fun and learning,” said Keith Winsten, the Brevard Zoo’s executive director.
“We welcome this honor and hope it inspires readers to come to see our zoo for themselves.”
People on the Move
• Steve Janicki, the longtime executive director of the King Center for the Performing Arts whose leadership turned the facility into a cultural landmark in Florida, will retire from the position in 2020.
Janicki made the announcement during a meeting of the Eastern Florida State College Board of Trustees.
His departure will end a 33-year career that began in 1987, the year before the King Center opened on EFSC’s Melbourne Campus.
“It has been an amazing ride. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this job,” said Janicki, who will leave in May 2020, and is the only executive director in the King Center’s history.