TAMPA —Visit Tampa Bay shined the light Thursday on seven individuals who helped bring in millions in tourism dollars this year.
During its annual meeting at the A La Carte Event Pavilion, Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s official tourism arm, announced that the seven were responsible for filling 41,000 rooms at local hotels and bringing in $32 million in visitor spending.
The honorees included:
♦ Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and Tampa philanthropist Kiran Patel for their work to bring the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend & Awards to Tampa Bay in April.
♦ Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, former Tampa City Councilwoman Gwen Miller, County Judge Eric Myers and Michael Dozier, retired training and safety manager for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority for helping to bring the 2014 Imperial Session of the Prince Hall Shriners to Tampa Bay in August.
♦ University of South Florida professor of electrical engineering Larry Dunleavy for helping to bring IEEE International Microwave Symposium to Tampa Bay in May.
♦ Paulette C. Walker, president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, for bringing her sisters to Tampa Bay for their Southern Regional Conference in June.
The largest of the four events was IIFA, a traveling showcase for Indian cinema that chose Tampa Bay for its first visit to the United States.
The events contributed to what Visit Tampa Bay hails as a record year for tourism in Hillsborough County. Visitors spent nearly $375 million in fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30 and brought in a record $23.7 million in county bed taxes.
“We want more people to follow the example set by this year’s honorees and work with us to bring new conventions to town or keep existing ones here in the years to come,” said Visit Tampa Bay President and CEO Santiago Corrada.