Visit Pensacola Prez packs bags for St. Pete/Clearwater

Steve Hayes, President of Visit Pensacola announced today he has accepted the position of President & CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in Pinellas County.

“I am very proud of our team at Visit Pensacola and our many accomplishments over the last six and a half years,” Hayes said. “More importantly, I am grateful to our stakeholders, the community and Escambia County for the opportunity to be its leader and to grow this economic engine. It has been a team effort and an experience that I will always treasure. While this decision is bittersweet the new position provides me a unique professional opportunity and brings us closer to our Central Florida family.”

Taking over the position in early 2013, Hayes has led the organization and delivered continual growth in visitors and visitor spend to Escambia County. Key accomplishments include:

  • Working collaboratively with stakeholders he created a stand-alone organization with the sole purpose of promoting tourism
  • Created a locally based entity to work together on all marketing and media needs named Showcase Pensacola
  • Led stakeholders through a 5-year strategic planning process, Destination 2020
  • Increased marketing efforts on a national scale including presence in New York City, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City and Philadelphia
  • TDT collections grew by 58%, visitor spend by 24% and number of visitors by 27%

“Steve’s vision, drive and performance, combined with his commitment to the organization has led Escambia County to see major growth in a variety of areas including visitor spend, new visitors to our area and tourist development tax dollars. We are sad to see him go but congratulate him in this new opportunity,” Board Chairman, Rob Overton, Jr. said.

To continue the momentum and growth of the hospitality sector in the Pensacola area, the board’s executive committee has started the process to recommend a succession plan as well as identify an individual to serve in an interim basis. Those will be discussed during Visit Pensacola’s next board meeting on Oct. 23 at Skopelos at New World Landing.

“Tourism is an integral part of the local economy. We want to make sure that we continue to operate in a fashion that drives visitation and business to our community,” incoming Board Chairman Sterling Gilliam said. “We are committed to finding an individual who will provide a direction and focus as we look to the future.”

To ensure a smooth transition, Hayes will continue his dedication to the organization until Dec. 12. For more information on Visit Pensacola news and happenings, visit