The new head of tourism in Florida has vowed to take advantage of a massive $2.5 billion initiative to attack the cause of the red tide that ruined major parts of the coast in 2018. This also includes implementing a new focus on the environment under her leadership.
Dana Young is the first woman CEO of official tourism marketing corporation Visit Florida. Her appointment by new state governor Ron DeSantis represents a major change in both politics and the thinking of the states senior figures.
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Republican DeSantis changed decades of traditional party policy by announcing the water policy reform within 48 hours of taking office. He insisted that his newly-signed Executive Order would protect the state’s environment and water quality by “ensuring immediate action to combat the threats which have devastated our local economies and threatened the health of our communities.”
Environmental programs had not only been allowed to lapse under former governor and fellow Republican Rick Scott but also became a hot-button issue last year. Florida suffered its worst outbreak of toxic red algae in history! This affects more than 200 miles of coastline, closing some of the most popular beaches and harming local businesses.
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Unfortunately, this occured at the same time as a rise in the equally dangerous blue-green algae, seen along rivers and inland waterways. Linked to industrial and farming contaminates, the perfect storm of ecological calamity was formed.
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Young claims that the governor’s new Order gives her the green light to promote an eco-friendly agenda. The Order creates a taskforce to combat the blue-green algae, as well as an Office of Environmental Accountability; Young is qualified due to a background as an environmental lawyer with a long-running commitment to ban fracking in Florida.
Speaking at a press conference during the annual Visit Florida travel convention in Daytona Beach, she explained:
“My family has been here for six generations and, from my personal knowledge of Florida, if we are not looking after the natural environment and we don’t have open, clean water, no-one is coming here, not on vacation, not to do business, not to move here permanently. Our environment is our greatest source of tourism dollars, and tourism makes up a third of the state budget. The governor’s Executive Order therefore tasks Visit Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity with finding ways to improve water quality and preserve natural resources even while growing tourism.”Visit Florida CEO Dana Young
Her optimistic, assertive approach to environmental concerns is in stark contrast to the previous state guidelines. Previous state government guidelines refused to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, even though certain areas, notably in and around Miami, are already seeing the effects of rising sea levels.
“We have an incredible natural environment in Florida, and I am bringing a new perspective to this job, one that involves highlighting authentic experiences such as eco-tours to see places like our natural springs and the Everglades. We can’t ignore the dangers to that environment because it affects our communities as well as our tourism.”Visit Florida CEO Dana Young
She also insisted she will be supporting the cause of some of the states lesser attractions, in addition to the headlining theme parks and beaches. Young’s family is from Cedar Key, a picturesque fishing village on the Gulf Coast. It is a perfect example of the states small-town charms.
“I want to make sure people know we’re not just one thing or another. We have a great variety of experiences and we have to do a better job of showing the great diversity we have to offer. Truly, there is something for everyone here.”Visit Florida CEO Dana Young