Gary Sain


He’s the president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau.



 

I’ve gotten that often [remarks on his resemblance to Keith Olbermann, political commentator on MSNBC], ever since I took this job. I certainly don’t make what Keith makes.

You have to be optimistic to be in the travel and tourism industry. That’s just our nature. We sell dreams and we bring people together. As an industry we always tend to be optimistic about the future.

Families still need to come together in times of crisis, and in times of economic crisis, even more so. That is why we came up with the new campaign tagline for 2009, “Orlando Makes Me Smile,” because it’s all about nurturing relationships and building memories. That’s what Orlando stands for. It’s very upbeat. It’s very emotional. I think people will connect to it.

I think this year, more than ever, you’re going to see many more incentives to lure domestic and international tourists and locals to visit all that Orlando has to offer.

Vegas has really gone more upstream. In fact, the number of household incomes over $100,000 has increased for visitation to Vegas while the number of households $60,000-plus has dwindled. Orlando is much more balanced with tremendous value offerings, so I think we can weather the financial storm better than Vegas.

Because of the competitive nature of our business, much of how we market Orlando is confidential. I wouldn’t want other destinations to see what media we intend to purchase or companies we are entertaining for conventions and meetings, because that allows them to go after those customers for future business.

If I had to do the Dubai trip over again [for which he spent $9,271 on business-class airfare while hotelier Harris Rosen and UCF administrator Abe Pizam flew coach], I would probably look for a way that the three of us could share one seat.

Dubai is amazing. They’re building Dubailand, which will have 10 to 15 different amusement parks; it’ll be four times the size of Walt Disney World. They’re going to be a very strong competitor.

Travel and tourism is an economic development driver. We generate $31 billion-plus for the local economy. We employ close to 400,000 people. The visitors we bring here like what they see. They relocate here. They bring their businesses here.

My favorite theme park in Orlando? They’re all my favorites.


 

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