Local Hotelier Named to Florida Tourism Hall of Fame

Sheraton Sand Key’s Kimball Honored as ‘Model for Tourism’

Monday, August 24, 2009

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (August 24, 2009) – Local tourism veteran and Pinellas County Tourist Development Council member Russ Kimball has been named to the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. 

The announcement came last night at the opening reception for Visit Florida’s Governor’s Conference, the state tourism board’s annual state-of-the-industry conference taking place in Miami this week. 

More than 500 tourism officials and industry watchers from around the state were on hand for the evening’s program, which also included remarks by Ed Fouché, Senior Vice President of Disney Destinations (on left in photo), Visit Florida President and CEO Chris Thompson and author and Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry.

Trained in hotel and restaurant management in New York and at Florida State University, Kimball was hailed as a —model for Florida’s hospitality efforts” and lauded for his many accomplishments, including induction into the Florida State Dedman School of Hospitality Hall of Fame and his commitment to help young people achieve career success in hospitality services. 

He was also recognized as a pioneer in forging international tourism—both to Pinellas County and the state—and for his quiet support and active participation in the industry, including fighting for the consolidation of statewide tourism efforts that led to the development of Visit Florida.

—You can’t think of Florida tourism without thinking of Russ Kimball,” said Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Executive Director DT Minich. —And I can’t think of anyone—either in St. Pete/Clearwater or anywhere in the state—who deserves this recognition more than he does.” 

Kimball’s team at the Sheraton Sand Key consistently earns a Top Ten ranking in guest satisfaction, and has achieved the #1 ranking for meeting planner satisfaction among all Sheraton Hotel properties in North America.

Begun in 2001, the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame honors contemporary and historic figures whose vision, creativity and drive have had a major impact on the development of Florida tourism.
Selection is made by a panel representing the state's various tourism industry associations and other key industry representatives. 

Past recipients of the award, which is presented on behalf of the Florida Commission on Tourism, include Walt Disney, Henry Flagler, Governor Jeb Bush and Richard Gonzmart, President of the Tampa-based Columbia Restaurant Group. 

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is the destination marketing organization for Pinellas County, Florida.

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For more information: www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com
Contact: CVB Assistant Director David Downing: David@VisitSPC.com
Phone: 727.464.7213

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