Living and Working in Paradise

When my wife Susan and I are taking a walk on the beach, dining at a river front restaurant or even taking the grandkids to one of the theme parks, we almost always look at each other and say, “People save all year to visit this place and we get to live here!”

Growing up in Cocoa Beach, I always felt privileged to reside in a place where I could see historic missile launches from by backyard and enjoy the amazing amenities that drew people from around the world. Here, we experience a region with famous beaches, an incredible cruise port and world-class venues, from theme parks to the birthplace of NASCAR.

But we get so much more. Far from being the half you don’t know about, tourism is a technology and engineering driver that visitors and residents don’t fully appreciate (Tourism Tech p 22). Also, there is an awareness and sensitivity to our natural surroundings that is heightened by the visitors that come here to see and experience it. Jim Fowler once said, “The most powerful argument of all for saving open space is economics; in most states, tourism is the No. 2 industry.” In Florida it is No.1. And, as Dave Cocchiarella writes in this month’s story, Water World on p 19, our tourism industry is heavily dependent on this natural resource.

Tourism enables us to enjoy the investment in beautiful landscaping, stunning architecture and a vibrant food scene. We also have an incredible infrastructure network, from amazing airports to an ever-expanding highway system that makes it as convenient for us to get around as it does for folks from Canada. And soon, we will be adding high-speed rail. In this issue, we highlight two regional sports amenities that tourism was the catalyst for: Orlando City Soccer and the recently rebuilt Camping World Stadium, which has a lineup of upcoming college and pro Football games the area has never seen.

Far from bemoaning the traffic that sometimes hampers my commutes or the crowds at some restaurants, being in a region that hosts over 66 million visitors a year gives us
opportunities and amenities other locales only dream of. Not only that,
tourists are the only import that registers in our economy as an export.

Plus, it is an export that is completely renewable and sustainable!