PENSACOLA, Fla. – National Travel and Tourism Week is the annual salute to travel in America. This week, the Pensacola Bay Area community united to celebrate the power of travel at its annual Hospitality Hero Award Luncheon.

Visit Pensacola President and CEO Darien Schaefer highlighted the industry's role in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the economy, and rebuilding our workforce through 2021.

"While 2020 was a tumultuous time for our industry, nationally, leisure travel has been projected to return to 2019 levels in 2022. Here in Pensacola, we are exceeding 2019 performance through the first six months of the 2021 Fiscal Year. Looking forward, lodging performance projections for April through the summer months is trending higher than the same period in 2019," Schaefer said.

Don Welsh, Destinations International President and CEO, was the guest speaker at today's program. 

"At Destinations International, we empower our members, such as Visit Pensacola, with the tools and information they need to make build strong and vibrant communities, said Welsh. "Destination organizations are the lifeblood of economic development for the communities they serve and when the tourism community, civic leaders and elected officials come together, that is when destinations can truly excel. This is my first visit to Pensacola, and I am pleased to see that Darien Schaefer and his team at Visit Pensacola play an active role in the community, making it a wonderful place to live, work and visit."

To honor those that continue to shine in the industry, the annual Hospitality Heroes were recognized. Hospitality Hero awards are given to dedicated team members that go above and beyond to create the Pensacola Experience.

This year's award recipients included:

·       Attractions/Venues: Kara Cederquist, Pensacola Pedal Trolley
·       Lodging: Judy Dale, Innisfree Hotels, Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach
·       Restaurant/Dining: Frank McMenamin, Red Fish Blue Fish
·       Shopping: Lauren Dockstader, Fusion Spa Salon Pensacola Beach
·       Transportation: Rita Potter, Beach Bum Trolley

"As a bar owner myself, it's moving to see our industry working together to not only rebuild but to create exemplary experiences for those in our destination," Board Chairman D.C. Reeves said. "We’re thankful to the community and our partners and especially to the front-line workers that are making things happen day in and day out.”

For more information on National Travel and Tourism Week, visit

About Visit Pensacola
Visit Pensacola is the destination organization for Escambia County which includes Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. With over 450 years of rich history and 18 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordered by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors from all over the world are lured to our pristine shores every year. Visit Pensacola supports the community vision of tourism by serving as the central body responsible for building tourism as an economic engine for our community through leadership, connection, collaboration and communication.


Nicole Stacey
(850) 434-2142