Let's get serious about tourism and create jobs

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - We hear a lot these days about the need to create jobs, right here at home. Well, right here at home, the tourism industry is doing its part, and with the community's support we can do even more. 

Tourism contributes more than $60 billion to the economy of Florida. In 2011, Greater Fort Lauderdale welcomed 11.1 million visitors spending $9.4 billion.  In Broward County, the tourism industry employs more than 130,000 residents. And, what's most important is that every 85 visitors to Greater Fort Lauderdale represent one job in our local economy. 

The more people we can persuade to come here, the more jobs there will be for our friends, families and neighbors. It's not a hard sell: Greater Fort Lauderdale is a year-round beach and watersports destination, with unparalleled shopping and an active arts and entertainment scene. And, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is doing everything it can to get the message out. Most recently, we took swimsuits encased in blocks of ice to Toronto, New York and London, just to remind all those shivering from the cold that the sun was shining warmly in Greater Fort Lauderdale. There is even a free iPhone app created to see how good the beach looks on you:  "Defrost Your Swimsuit." 

What can the rest of the community do to help create jobs through tourism? First of all, recognize and appreciate the vital importance of tourism to our well-being and quality of life. As we've always advocated through our "Tourists – you gotta love ‘em" philosophy – these visitors are keeping a lot of people in work. Not only are they are helping to keep the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and all our cultural institutions thriving, they are helping to fill our restaurants and shopping malls and dive shops and charter boats. 

All of us can help make sure that millions of visitors keep coming. Beyond helping to make this the best, most welcoming place in America for a vacation, convention, wedding or special event, you can tell the world about Greater Fort Lauderdale. "Tweet" your favorite beach, put the menu of your favorite restaurant on your Facebook page, post pictures of your favorite places on Flickr, put tips about your favorite spots on Foursquare, or download our "Defrost Your Swimsuit" app and send your defrosted bikini photo to friends and family. Social media is a great way to show vacationers around the world why they should come to Greater Fort Lauderdale.  Help us create some "buzz." Together we'll create more jobs in tourism and together we will all benefit. 

So, when you see a visitor at the beach, on the street, at the grocery store or elsewhere, wave to them---with all 5 fingers of your hand.  

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