Boys’ basketball: Q&A with Bort Escoto

first_imgIn his 14th year as coach at Sylmar, Escoto has arguably one of his best teams ever heading into City Section postseason play. Guy Landry is an emerging force, Victor Rudd is developing into a star, Antonio Biglow is a heady floor leader, and Dwight Jones and Tyler Honeycutt have proven reliable from the perimeter, all while standout Mat Hankins has been out dealing with numerous injuries for the majority of the season. The Spartans (16-9) are one of the few area teams with a chance to make some noise in the Championship playoffs. It won’t be easy, though. Sylmar received the ninth seed amid some minor controversy and now must face one of the more difficult routes to the title game, beginning with Thursday’s first round game at home against perennial power Crenshaw (17-7). DN: Talk to me about your team’s chances. Crenshaw first, and if you manage to win, top-seeded Fairfax is going to be waiting for you guys in the second round. Do you feel like the City Section selection committee gave you guys a fair shot? BE: We got screwed. I told my assistant Charles White beforehand that we were going to get cheated. We were disappointed and angry when we learned where we ended up in the bracket. BE: Of course. How could you not? I’d be the answer to a pretty good trivia question if we win. Seriously, I’ve always admired Willie. I’ve patterned my program after his. I’d be rooting for him to win a title in his final year if we weren’t playing his team in the first round. DN: So the plan is, take out Willie and company, upset Fairfax and go on to win the championship at the L.A. Sports Arena on March 3rd … Are you going to guarantee that this group of yours is going to bring back a title to the San Fernando Valley? BE: I wouldn’t go that far. I can tell you this, we’re not the same team we were at the beginning of the season. We have all the pieces in place. We have the bodies. We have the horses and they’re ready to run. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img DN: What type of feedback have you gotten from your players, and are they overly discouraged? BE: No. Not really. I told them that there’s always going to be some bias when it comes to these things, so they were prepared. DN: Now what? Where do you go from here and how do you motivate the kids for the big-time challenge ahead? BE: We’re not going to cry about the situation. We’re men. We don’t care about being snubbed anymore. It is what it is. This is a hungry group, ready to show everyone what we’re about. Crenshaw is always good, so we can’t afford to look past them. And in order to win the City title, you have to beat Fairfax at some point. DN: Let’s talk a little more about Crenshaw, specifically coach Willie West. He’s a legend and plans on retiring after 39 years as the Cougars’ coach. Have you given much thought about his illustrious career – which includes eight Div. I state titles, 16 City Section championships since 1980 and more than 800 wins – ending with a loss in your gym? last_img read more

Jose: City or Liverpool will be champions

first_imgChelsea boss Jose Mourinho continued to play down his side’s title chances after their stunning 2-0 victory against leaders Liverpool at Anfield.Goals from Demba Ba and Willian moved the Blues to within two points of Brendan Rodgers’ team and meant Manchester City can secure the title by winning their remaining games.Mourinho told Sky Sports: “Now we can say we won both matches against the champions. If it’s Liverpool, we won both. If it’s City, we won both.“With these three points we need one point to finish third. It was a good season for us and an evolution in many aspects of this team.“The champions will be City or Liverpool so we have nothing to celebrate.“Obviously many people would be expecting us to come here and lose 3-0 or 5-0, like others. Many people thought it was impossible to get this result.“But the boys had an amazing performance so I’m so happy for them and for the fans. This is the spirit we always want at Chelsea.“We deserved to win – no doubt about it. At 1-0 for 45 minutes we were always comfortable and never in trouble against a fantastic team with beautiful players who score a lot of goals and smash every team who comes here.”More reaction from Anfield to follow later.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

One day left submit your short film for a chance to win

first_img Twitter Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Advertisement How to submit your film.Entries must be under 30 minutes – the shorter the better. Drama, comedy, animation, documentary, sci-fi, horror, music video and experimental are all eligible but must be made by a Canadian writer, director or producer. The festival accepts films released after January 1, 2012.Tyler Parr, a previous winner of the Brian Linehan Actors Award for his work in the film Ironied, said about the NSI Online Short Film Festival: “What’s incredible about the festival is that they recognize precisely the commitment, time, expense and especially the passion that go into making a film. They have professional, dedicated jurors that come from a variety of backgrounds, so you know your film is being received with respect.”The NSI Online Short Film Festival is a year-round Canadian short film showcase with new films added every week. Since launching in 2008, the festival has programmed hundreds of films and awarded over $110K to Canadian media artists. Many of the films are available to watch in the archives.The NSI Online Short Film Festival is made possible through the support of Festival Partner Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment One, Super Channel, Corus Entertainment, Blue Ant Media, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Breakthrough Entertainment; Award Sponsors A&E Television Networks, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Blue Ant Media; and Industry Partner the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Advertisement $3,750 in cash awards are available to be won through the National Screen Institute’s Online Short Film Festival. Films are accepted exclusively through FilmFreeway until Wednesday, December 13, 2017.Films that meet award criteria are eligible for the $1,250 A&E Short Filmmakers Award and the $1,000 Brian Linehan Actors Award. These awards are presented four times a year. The $1,500 Blue Ant Media Documentary Award is presented twice a year. Read about the most recent winners.All NSI Online Short Film Festival winners receive a complimentary Friend membership for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and non-acting award winners are qualified to be nominated for a Canadian Screen Award (if award criteria are met). Login/Register With:last_img read more

The Rams Wont Get As Much From LA As The Lakers And

The source of an NFL team’s fortune looks a lot different than what fills the coffers for MLB, NBA and NHL teams. While 83 percent of the average team’s revenue in those sports comes from sources other than national TV deals — sources largely tied up in local earnings such as gate receipts and regional sports networks (more on those later) — that figure is only 46 percent for the average NFL club. Thus, financially, it matters less where an NFL team is located, because the team is going to get billions anyway from national revenue-sharing arrangements.1The NFL’s total revenue from national TV rights is a sum of deals with five networks: CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network, plus a contract with DirecTV. Disclosure: FiveThirtyEight is owned by ESPN.This flattening of large-market revenue happens in other ways across all pro sports, such as the shared revenue brought in by licensing and merchandise (hats, jerseys, pagan blood contracts with FanKings), which insidery estimates put at approximately $3 billion annually — another $87 million or so per year per team after the league takes its 10 percent cut — and which is shared equally among 31 NFL teams. (The Cowboys are the only team that has an individual licensing and merchandising deal, because of course they are.)Comparing the Rams’ situation to those of teams in the NBA, NHL and MLB, all of which have lucrative regional TV deals that the NFL can’t tap into, reveals how little the Rams gain in television money by moving to Los Angeles. Specifically, we can zoom in to the revenue from Los Angeles teams’ TV contracts to see how much money the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, Kings and Ducks are pulling in from regional contracts: After years of speculation over which NFL team would be the first to surrender to Hollywood’s siren call, the inevitable finally happened: The league’s owners voted this week to allow the Rams to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. In his attempt to justify the move, Rams owner Stan Kroenke made a lot of claims about the St. Louis area. He believed, or at least said, his team would be “on the road to financial ruin” if it stayed in the Gateway City because of what he alleged were poor economic prospects for the metro area, a declining population and various other local factors. The kabuki was unconvincing.Kroenke’s arguments rang hollow for a number of reasons, but his silly obsession with the drawbacks of the St. Louis area holds a major logical flaw: The Rams play in the only major pro league where local revenue takes a backseat to the revenue generated by shared, national television contracts. Regional sports networks (RSNs) have been all the rage for a while now, and the profits teams haul in by selling their cable rights — or, better yet, starting their own team-operated channels — have fueled the ballooning revenues in other leagues. In LA alone, the Lakers inked an RSN deal worth an average of $200 million a year,2Hence the figure we list above, a 20-year average from their contract with Time Warner Cable. and the Dodgers dropped jaws when it was announced their RSN contract would net $334 million per year in revenue. Even the Clippers, who come in well behind the Lakers, recently turned down a $60 million per year local deal, presumably because they’re holding out for something more lucrative.If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 60 percent more TV dollars than the average NFL team rakes in annually. And since the NFL does its television business on a strictly national basis, the Rams can’t unleash the power of an RSN on the eyeballs of the nation’s second-biggest media market.Kroenke would of course argue that the financial benefit comes from attendance — St. Louis was dead last in the NFL this season, and has floated around the bottom three during this decade. But even then, it’s not as though the Rams were always a draw in LA, as the Los Angeles Times noted in a 1994 game story titled “Attendance Is Not Exactly Peachy,” as just 32,969 fans turned out for a 14-12 snoozer against the Cardinals. (This was the “announced” attendance, which is definitionally lower than the actual attendance. Anaheim Stadium’s football capacity was 69,008.) The Rams were last in the league in attendance in 1994, their last year in Los Angeles.So Kroenke gains little in the way of media money by uprooting the Rams, and the benefits to the gate are far from certain once we look to LA’s not-that-distant history as a football town. What then does he gain by fistfighting St. Louis and burning every bridge on his way out of Missouri? One way to make sense of this is to look away from league revenue or fan interest and shift our attention downward, to Stan Kroenke’s pockets. Holy Cross economics professor Victor Matheson told the International Business Times that economists generally expect the Rams’ valuation to rise by at least $500 million with the move to LA. read more

Indian employees to see 108 salary hike in 2015

first_imgAccording to Towers Watson 2014-15 Asia-Pacific Salary Budget Planning Report, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam are set to lead the way with over 11 per cent overall salary increases while India is placed at the fourth position with an increase of 10.8 per cent. The report added that though salary across the regions are set to rise, a corresponding rise in inflation would mean that pay increases in ‘real terms’ would be eroded significantly in the coming year. Also Read – I-T issues 17-point checklist to trace unaccounted DeMO cashChina is expected to see the highest salary increase — 5.2 per cent in real terms in the region, followed by Pakistan (4.5 per cent), Bangladesh (4.3 per cent), Vietnam (4.1 per cent) and Sri Lanka (3.8 per cent). India was ranked sixth with a corresponding real increase of 3.5 per cent. ‘We foresee an increased economic growth in Asia Pacific in 2015 in light of a declining unemployment rate and rising GDP in the region,’ Towers Watson Data Services practice leader, Asia Pacific Sambhav Rakyan said. Also Read – Lanka launches ambitious tourism programme to woo Indian tourists‘This, in turn, will lead to inflationary pressures that affect real salary increases. Indians will only see an effective salary increase that is one-third of the overall salary increase due to such pressures,’ Rakyan added.The report further noted that in 8 out of the 10 sectors surveyed, the pay raises for Executive Directors and Senior Management in India are expected to be higher than or equal to 2014 with the professional services sector particularly standing out at 4.5 per cent. In India all employees — from production workers to executive directors — are set to have higher pay raises than last year.last_img read more

Massive fire erupts at multistoreyed building near Exide Crossing

first_imgKolkata: A major fire broke out at a multi-storeyed building near Exide crossing on Friday morning. Twelve fire tenders were pressed into action and the flames was doused after almost three hours. None was hurt or trapped in the building.On Friday morning, around 9:30 am, fire broke out at an office of an interior decoration company on the 4th floor of a multi-storied building located on 60, Chowringhee Road, popularly known as Mukherjee Building. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataWithin a few minutes thick black smoke covered the entire Exide crossing and Bishop Lefroy Road. Occupants of the building ran out of the apartment in panic and people residing in adjacent buildings also got frightened seeing the thick black smoke and they too rushed out of their homes. Police and fire brigade were immediately informed. Primarily three fire tenders were sent to douse the flames but fire fighters realised that the intensity of the fire is quite high and therefore fire brigade control room was asked to send more fire tenders. Later, in two phases eight more fire tenders were sent at the incident site. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateAt the first, fire fighters evacuated all the apartments adjacent to Mukherjee building. While a section of firefighters sprayed water from the ground floor, other firefighters divided into two groups sprayed water from other buildings. The Disaster Management Group (DMG), Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) also joined the fire fighters to bring the flames under control. The situation turned serious when a major vertical crack developed on the building due to the heat. Soon, a huge portion of the building collapsed. According to firefighters, the building was weak and therefore it collapsed but necessary safety precautions were taken in this regard. Fire minister Sujit Bose and Director General of Fire Jag Mohan arrived at the spot to take stock of the situation. After an elaborate discussion with the fire officials, Bose said: “Senior officials have visited the spot. The flames were brought under controlled after two hours. Though a part of the building collapsed, no one is trapped or injured. Some parts of the apartment need to be demolished. KMC will take a decision on that. An inquiry will be conducted to find out whether the building authorities have mandatory fire license and no objection certificates. Stringent action will be taken if negligence is found on anybody’s part. Some residents told me that they were alerted by the fire alarm.” According to CESC, engineers reached the site within 20 minutes and found that the fire erupted on the 4th floor of the multi-storied building. After consulting the fire brigade officials, power supply to the affected building was re-energised within 5 minutes. CESC engineers and workers kept a minute-to-minute watch till the fire was completely doused. Later, after the clearance given by the fire brigade, power supply was restored.last_img read more

Introducing AWS DeepRacer a selfdriving race car and Amazons autonomous racing league

first_imgYesterday, at the AWS re:Invent conference, Andy Jassy, CEO at Amazon Web Services introduced AWS DeepRacer and announced a global autonomous AWS DeepRacer racing league. Amazon DeepRacer AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale radio-controlled, self-driving four-wheel race car which has been designed to help developers learn about reinforcement learning. This car features a 4-megapixel camera with 1080p resolution, an Intel Atom processor, multiple USB ports, and a 2-hour battery. The car comes with a 4GB RAM and 32GB expandable storage. The compute battery is a 13600mAh USB-C PD. It is embedded with an accelerometer and gyroscope. The console, simulator, and car are a great combination to experiment with RL algorithms and generalization methods. It includes a fully-configured cloud environment that users can use to train Reinforcement Learning models. This car also uses a camera to view the track and a reinforcement model to control throttle and steering. AWS DeepRacer is integrated with Amazon SageMaker to take advantage of its new reinforcement learning model and with AWS RoboMaker in order to provide a 3D simulation environment. It is also integrated with Amazon Kinesis Video Streams for the video streaming of virtual simulation footage and Amazon S3 for model storage. It also comes with support for Amazon CloudWatch for log capture. AWS DeepRacer League The AWS DeepRacer League gives users an opportunity to compete in a global racing championship to advance to AWS DeepRacer Championship Cup at re:Invent 2019 and to probably win the AWS DeepRacer Cup. This league is categorized into 2 categories, live events, and virtual events. Live Events Developers can compete by submitting their already built or new reinforcement learning models to the virtual leaderboard for the Summit. The top ten champions will compete in live races on the track, using AWS DeepRacer. The summit winners and top performers across the races will qualify for the AWS DeepRacer Championship Cup. The AWS DeepRacer League will be launched in AWS Summit locations around the world, including Tokyo, London, Sydney, Singapore, and New York in early 2019. Virtual events Developers can build RL models and compete online using the AWS DeepRacer console. The virtual races will take place on the challenging tracks in the 3D racing simulator. What is in store for the developers? Learn reinforcement learning in a new way AWS DeepRacer helps developers to get started with reinforcement learning by providing hands-on tutorials for training RL models and testing them in a fun way, with the car racing experience. It is easy to get started quickly, anywhere One can start training the model on the virtual track in minutes with the AWS DeepRacer console and 3D racing simulator irrespective of place or time. Idea sharing The DeepRacer League gives a platform to developers to meet fellow machine learning enthusiasts, online and also in-person to share ideas and insights. Also, it gives an opportunity to compete and win prizes. Developers will also get a chance to learn about reinforcement learning via workshops. No need to manually set up a software environment The 3D racing simulator and car provide an ideal environment for developers to test the latest reinforcement learning algorithms. With DeepRacer, developers don’t have to manually set up a software environment, simulator or configure a training environment. Public reaction to AWS DeepRacer is mostly positive, however, a few have their doubts. Concerns range from  CPU time, SageMaker requirement, and shipping related queries. To know more about this news, check out Amazon’s official blog. Read Next Amazon launches AWS Ground Station, a fully managed service for controlling satellite communications, downlink and processing satellite data Amazon re:Invent announces Amazon DynamoDB Transactions, CloudWatch Logs Insights and cloud security conference, Amazon re:Inforce 2019 Learning To Dress: Synthesizing Human Dressing Motion via Deep Reinforcement Learninglast_img read more

Foodie bliss onboard Celebrity Edge with 29 dining venues

first_img Posted by Thursday, March 1, 2018 Tags: Celebrity Cruises, Culinary Tourism Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Foodie bliss onboard Celebrity Edge, with 29 dining venues Share For breakfast and lunch Le Grand Bistro is reminiscent of a bustling boulangerie-patisserie, with handmade macaroons, artisanal cheeses and freshly baked bread. At night the lights are dimmed, and an entirely new experience is served; Celebrity is bringing the tabletop to life in partnership with TableMation Studios, featuring Skullmapping’s world famous Le Petit Chef, an animated 3D character who appears right on guest’s plates and prepares each course they’ll be enjoying right before their eyes. Celebrity says it’s “an immersive fusion of entertainment and dining like nothing guests have ever experienced at sea”, and Celebrity guarantees that, as the brand is the very first cruise line to partner with TableMation Studios and Skullmapping.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoWith five diverse complimentary dining offerings – including the iconic Oceanview Café, now featuring more live action stations, and Mast Grill, plus three completely new offerings – Grand Plaza Café, The Spa Café and Juice Bar, and Eden Café – guests have even more ways to experience the world-class cuisine on Celebrity Edge, in addition to the new complimentary four Main Dining offerings, says the cruise line.The 11 bars and lounges on board Celebrity Edge include the iconic Martini Bar and the Eden Bar. Additional bars and lounges to be featured on Celebrity Edge include: The Retreat Lounge and The Retreat Pool Bar, both exclusive for Suite Class guests; The Theater Bar; The Casino Bar; The Club; Café Al Bacio; The Pool Bar and Edge Cabanas; Sunset Bar; and Il Secondo Bacio.Celebrity Edge will spend its inaugural season sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries before heading to the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome in 2019.Homeporting in Fort Lauderdale, Celebrity Edge sets sail Nov. 21, 2018. Bookings are now open including dining reservations. Celebrity Edge will be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022. MIAMI — Celebrity Edge’s new dining options run the gamut from a sky-high venue cantilevered 16 decks above the ocean, to a fusion of technology, animation and dining with ‘Le Petit Chef’.The 29 dining spots include four main dining restaurants, two Suite and AquaClass restaurants, seven new specialty restaurants, five complimentary dining venues, and 11 bars and lounges.“Once again Celebrity Edge is solidifying, amplifying, and putting a superlative on our award-winning culinary experience, allowing our guests to explore the world without ever leaving their table,” says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “From the amazing destinations we visit globally, to the local ingredients sourced to satisfy the visionary recipes created by our Michelin-starred chef, Cornelius Gallagher, we open up the world through our unique culinary offerings.”Brian Abel, VP, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises, adds: “We are known for our world-class culinary offerings – our guests tell us this is what sets us apart and the prestigious awards we win affirm that – and on Celebrity Edge, we’ve combined unique concepts, expansive menus, and incredible design to serve a platter of exciting new dining experiences never before seen at sea.”Celebrity has redesigned the main dining experience on Celebrity Edge, to include four complimentary restaurants, each with its own design and ambience inspired by a specific region of the world. Menus in every restaurant feature signature dishes that are offered today across the fleet, which change nightly, and also selections of dishes to showcase the inspiration.Tuscan Restaurant, a nod to Celebrity’s popular Tuscan Grille, features freshly made pastas, while Normandie Restaurant, a conceptual cousin of the brand’s French restaurant, Murano, will feature French dining.In the Cyprus Restaurant – a nod to the Mediterranean and Celebrity’s Greek heritage – guests will enjoy flavourful Mediterranean fare. And the Cosmopolitan Restaurant will feature new American cuisine.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJWith Celebrity Traditional Dining, guests choose early or late seating, which allows them to enjoy dinner at the same table with the same waiter every evening. With this option, they will be assigned to one of the four main restaurants, while having the ability to experience the others upon request.Celebrity has renamed its Celebrity Select Dining program Celebrity Select Dining Plus, now allowing guests to dine when and where they’d like to each evening; they can make reservations in any of the four restaurants at the time they wish.Suite Class guests have access to a private restaurant, Luminae at The Retreat, which the cruise line calls “an evolution of the highest-rated restaurant in the Celebrity fleet.”AquaClass guests will exclusively continue enjoying the clean, crisp flavors of the award-winning Blu, a spa-inspired restaurant.Six new specialty restaurants include: Fine Cut Steakhouse; Rooftop Garden Grill; Eden Restaurant; Raw on 5 offering the best delicacies from the sea and beyond; and Magic Carpet, billed as a one-of-a-kind al fresco dining adventure with the best views at sea. When the Magic Carpet is positioned at the very top level it becomes an extraordinary, exhilarating experience known as Dinner on the Edge.Le Grand Bistro will serve upscale French cuisine with stunning views of the sealast_img read more

Which company had the best April Fools gag

first_imgWhich company had the best April Fool’s gag? Share Monday, April 2, 2018 Tags: Contiki, Emirates, LOL, Swoop, Virgin Group, WestJet Travelweek Group center_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — You can always count on the travel industry for a few good laughs on April Fool’s Day.Some of the biggest names in the business participate in the annual gag-fest that is April Fool’s, and this year was certainly no exception. Here’s a roundup of some of the best pranks that debuted  in the days leading up to April 1st and on April Fool’s Day.Which company had the best April Fool’s gag? Vote for your favourite now!last_img read more

VISIT FLORIDA hosts Canada Travel Trade FAM

first_imgVISIT FLORIDA hosts Canada Travel Trade FAM << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, May 23, 2019 Share Tags: FAM, VISIT FLORIDA By: VISIT FLORIDA Earlier this month, VISIT FLORIDA hosted eight travel agents on the Spring 2019 Canada Travel Trade FAM. Beginning in one of Florida’s largest gateways, the group flew direct from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale and explored the beautiful destination of Greater Fort Lauderdale, which included hotel site visits, airboat rides and riverboat cruises. The group then traveled a short way north to The Treasure Coast. This coastal and easily accessible destination is located on the southeastern coast of Florida and is comprised of three counties: Martin County, St. Lucie County and Indian River County. While in the Treasure Coast, the group enjoyed waterfront dining, hotel site visits and paddle boarding.In the fall, VISIT FLORIDA will host its next Canada Travel Trade FAM. To qualify for this FAM, agents must complete VISIT FLORIDA’s new online learning program, Florida Travel Pro. This e-learning platform is designed to help travel professionals nationwide discover the best the state has to offer and sell Florida like a pro. *NOTE: Once you complete the program, please email Summer Gonzalez (sgonzalez@visitflorida.org) to express your interest in participating in this FAM.Become a Certified Florida Travel Pro at www.VisitFloridaTravelPro.com.last_img read more

Budget cuts not a problem says Visit Florida Canada still a top

first_img Tuesday, June 25, 2019 Share Tags: Crystal River, Florida, Pensacola, SeaWorld Travelweek Group Posted bycenter_img Budget cuts not a problem, says Visit Florida, Canada still a top priority TORONTO — Any concerns about Visit Florida losing steam in the Canadian market following hefty budget cuts were eased yesterday at a media luncheon in Toronto, where much of the talk centered on Canadian initiatives and the importance of travel agents.News broke earlier this year that the state-funded tourism agency’s budget would be cut by US$26 million (from $76m to $50m) next fiscal year, and that the agency itself would expire on Oct. 1. That date, however, has been extended until June 30, 2020 following last-minute budget talks, giving Visit Florida another year to stay afloat and market the destination, particularly in Canada.Speaking exclusively to Travelweek, Meagan Dougherty, Public Relations Director, says that Canada will still be a “huge” target for the agency and that the new budget will not alter its focus at all.“We just have to make our marketing dollars work harder for us and stretch further. When you have a larger budget you can do this, this and this. But with a smaller budget, you really have to pare that down and see what’s going to make the biggest impact,” she says.Canada, she adds, is Florida’s number one international market, with 3.5 million visitors last year, up 2% over the year before. Even more impressive is the fact that Canadians spend an average 21 days in the Sunshine State, making them a highly coveted market.“We’re really seeing an uptick among Canadians, both the drive and fly markets,” she says. “A couple years ago, we took Canada for granted and didn’t put as much emphasis here, which is why we started to see the numbers going down. But as soon as we started reminding Canadians of what we have to offer, the numbers started to go up again.”This renewed focus on Canada will take a slightly different approach; while previous directives showcased Florida’s beaches and theme parks, new efforts are being made to highlight lesser-known destinations within the state.Sana Keller and Meagan Dougherty“We really want to highlight more ‘unknown-to-Canadian’ destinations, which is why we’re here today in Toronto,” says Dougherty. “Florida fatigue is real, but that’s only because people are staying in their comfort zones and going to the same places every year. We want to tell them to come on down and try something new.”More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTHow this message is delivered to Canadians depends heavily on travel agents, she adds. Referring to them as “our first point of contact on the front lines”, Dougherty stresses the importance of education and why agents need first-hand experience to better sell the destination.“We want to make sure our travel agents are educated to be able to sell the other side of Florida. We have to get them here to experience it for themselves,” she says.To do this, Visit Florida has tied in some of its fams into its new Florida Travel Pro program, an e-learning platform that was launched in both English and French last year. The agency also recently welcomed new Chief Marketing Officer Gerardo Llanes in May, who Dougherty says is very trade-focused.“He’s already hit the ground running and making sure that we have all of the tools in place for our travel agents to learn the destination and sell it as we would – as Floridians,” she says. “He comes to us with a lot of experience in the tourism sector and we’re really looking forward to the changes and improvements he’s going to help us make, especially in the Canadian market.”Here are the destination partners that participated at the luncheon:Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley, SeaWorld Parks & EntertainmentSEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT• According to Suzanne Beasley, Senior Manager of Communications, SeaWorld’s mission focuses solely on education and conservation: “We want guests to be entertained but also be educated and inspired.”• Many of SeaWorld’s attractions are tied to conservation groups and initiatives. For example, SeaWorld San Diego’s new Tidal Twister coaster, which opened in May 2019, is partnered with The Rising Tide Conservation, which develops techniques for raising marine ornamental fish for both public displays and private aquariums. Its messaging can be seen throughout the ride.• All three SeaWorld parks in Orlando – SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove – are now designated as certified autism centres. According to Beasley, the designation will be rolled out to all parks in the coming year.Nicole Stacey, Visit PensacolaPENSACOLA• This family-friendly, laidback beach destination is the most northwestern city in Florida. It’s also America’s oldest settlement, established in 1559.• Pensacola is the only city from Jacksonville to New Orleans where visitors can enjoy the ‘Big 5’: Symphony, Museums, Orchestra, Ballet and Art.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin Cruises• Don’t miss the Naval Aviation Museum, a popular attraction for history buffs and multi-generational groups• Palafox Street, named after General Jose de Palafox y Melzi, has been named one of the best streets in America.CRYSTAL RIVER• This coastal gem in western Florida is located just over an hour north from Tampa, and less than two hours west of Orlando• Though small in size (the population is only 3,500), Crystal River is known for being the Manatee Capital of the World, as it’s the only place in North America where you can swim with these gentle creatures in the wild. Surrounding springs flow at a constant 23 degrees Celsius, making the waters attractive to both the manatees and swimmers throughout the year.• Other popular activities include boating, diving, fishing and eco-tours.OCALA MARION COUNTY• Located dead centre in the state, the county is big on horses, known for ample horseback riding and horse carriage rides. It’s officially been named the ‘Horse Capital of the World’.• Other popular activities include bird watching, zipline, river tubing and hiking.• Ocala/Marion County is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the world. Its Santos Mountain Bike Trails have received the prestigious designation of a bronze-level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, one of only six designated Ride Centers in the United States.• Coming in January 2021 is the World Equestrian Centre, which upon completion will offer horse barns, sporting arenas, a concert venue and an all-suite luxury hotel that will feature a 2,200 square-foot Presidential Suite.FLORIDA’S SPORTS COAST• Following a rebrand in 2018, Pasco County is now known as Florida’s Sports Coast, capitalizing on the destination’s long list of outdoor activities, sports facilities and water sports.• Don’t miss the James E. Grey Preserve, 80 acres of protected swamps and uplands where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk.• Birdwatchers will have a field day at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, where they can spot Bald Eagles, Roseate Spoonbills and even the elusive Black Rail. Other wildlife that call the Salt Spring home include Gray fox, gopher tortoises and dolphins. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more