Visit Orlando president and CEO George Aguel announced his retirement last week during a board of director's meeting, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Aguel, who has an extensive background in the tourism industry, joined Visit Orlando in 2013.
Prior to heading the city's convention and visitors bureau, Aguel spent 23 years with The Walt Disney Company. During his tenure, he helped lead the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division. Aguel also previously served as senior marketing and sales officer for the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Aguel's contract with Visit Orlando was set to expire in early 2021. Board leaders are expected to meet this week to discuss a transition plan, which will include the timing of his departure.
Aguel cited a desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for his retirement.
"While this is a decision I've been considering for some time, if there is anything 2020 has shown me, it's that you can't take your health for granted and there is no better time to spend it than with those I love most," said Aguel. "As a newly minted, 67-year-old grandfather, with a second one coming in October, and husband to an ever-patient wife of 46 years, there's nothing I look forward to more than spending as much quality time as possible with my family."
During his time with Visit Orlando, the city recorded record-high visitations, including 75 million visitors in 2019. To combat the economic impact of Covid-19 and bring business back to the city safely, Visit Orlando launched a personalized medical concierge program that will offer medical experts and resources to all groups that hold an event at the Orange County Convention Center in 2020. The convention center, which has received GBAC Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for its coronavirus cleaning and prevention efforts, recently hosted an in-person trade show with more than 1,400 people in attendance.
"We can confirm that after 46 years serving as a leader in the hospitality industry, including over seven as president and CEO of Visit Orlando, George Aguel announced his upcoming retirement," said a spokesperson for Visit Orlando. "Leading the official tourism association of the Orlando area, Aguel created new, award-winning marketing, communications and sales strategies and programs which helped generate record-breaking visitation every year of his tenure, and cemented Orlando's reputation as the most visited destination in the country."