TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (September 28, 2012) - Today, VISIT FLORIDA - the state's official tourism marketing corporation - held a Board of Directors meeting to establish a formal process for filling its soon-to-be vacant President and CEO position. This vacancy was created when Chris Thompson was officially announced as Brand USA's new President and CEO, effective November 1, 2012. As part of the meeting, a formal search committee made up of six board members was appointed. The board voted unanimously to have Will Seccombe, VISIT FLORIDA's CMO since 2008, serve as Acting President and CEO to bridge the time between Thompson's departure and the naming of a permanent replacement. “I congratulate Chris on this exciting opportunity to replicate at the national level the successes he has achieved at VISIT FLORIDA,” said Glenn Hastings, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Executive Director of the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. “In the past three years, Chris has proven he has the vision, passion and commitment to build and lead a world-class organization that will increase the economic impact of international visitors to the United States.” During Thompson’s three years as President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, the organization has transformed into a national model for its highly-effective, public-private, industry-driven tourism marketing efforts. Since 2009, the Florida tourism industry has experienced record visitation, visitor spending and job creation. Under Thompson's direction, VISIT FLORIDA has achieved all-time highs of $258 in tourism spending and $15 in new sales tax collections for every $1 spent on tourism marketing. "Chris has been a great leader, mentor, colleague and friend and he leaves VISIT FLORIDA in a very strong position to pursue our vision of establishing Florida as the No. 1 travel destination in the world," continued Hastings. "I have complete confidence in Will’s ability to lead VISIT FLORIDA's volunteer leadership and professional staff as they implement the current 2012-2013 strategic marketing plan, which lays out an aggressive and transformative course for the Florida tourism industry." Earlier this month during the 45th Annual Florida Governor's Conference on Tourism, VISIT FLORIDA announced plans for several new initiatives. These include a new advertising campaign launching in January, a Florida lifestyle television show on the Cooking Channel hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, a new look to our award-winning consumer website VISITFLORIDA.com, a strong commitment to content through our expanded network of freelance journalists, and a multi-marketing platform for Viva Florida 500 to commemorate the state’s quincentennial in 2013. VISIT FLORIDA also announced enhanced programs with its strategic partners Mazda and Google to bring traditional marketing concepts online at a scale that will have a substantial impact on the Florida tourism market. “While I’m excited to take on my new role at Brand USA, I could not be more proud of the successes that VISIT FLORIDA has achieved in cooperation with the Florida tourism industry,” said Chris Thompson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. "The record growth in visitation, our incredible strategic partnerships and the outstanding return on investment that our marketing efforts have achieved are truly a testament to the strength of Florida’s tourism product and the creative and passionate work being done by VISIT FLORIDA and our partners statewide." "I leave VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida tourism industry in the most capable of hands, knowing the momentum and energy that we’ve built together will continue to be fostered so the Sunshine State truly becomes the No. 1 vacation destination in the world," continued Thompson.