Visit Florida, the state's tourism board, today announced the appointment of Ken Lawson as its new president and CEO. The announcement was made after a unanimous vote of the board of directors during a meeting this morning in Orlando. Lawson, who currently serves as the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, will assume his new position on Jan. 11. His appointment comes following the resignation of CEO Will Seccombe in the wake of the controversy with Gov. Rick Scott and other lawmakers over a $1 million contract the organization penned with rapper Pitbull that included the use of his song "Sexy Beaches," as M&C reported last week
According to press reports, the Visit Florida board approved a $73,000 severance package for Seccombe instead of the $327,000 stipulated in a severance clause in his contract. The $73,000 figure comes entirely out of private industry funding for the group and not state funds.
"The work Visit Florida does to promote tourism is vital to the continued growth of the state's economy, and having someone with Secretary Lawson's strong leadership background will secure our continued success," said William D. Talbert, III, CDME, president & CEO of the GreaterMiami Convention & Visitors Bureau and chair of the Visit Florida board of directors.
Lawson, a native Floridian and former U.S. Marine Corps judge advocate general, has spent 12 years serving the public in numerous regulatory positions, including his most recent work overseeing -- among other divisions -- restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals with DBPR.
"Florida tourism has great momentum, with five consecutive years of record visitation, visitor spending and industry-related employment, and I look forward to building on this momentum to take Visit Florida to the next level," said Lawson.