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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Visit Florida replaces CEO

Visit Florida, the state's tax-assisted tourism promotion firm, is replacing president and CEO Bud Nocera, according to an announcement on Friday from the Richard Goldman, the group's board of directors chairman.

Chris Thompson, Visit Florida's chief operating officer, will replace Nocera as part of a "corporate realignment," Goldman explained in the six-sentence written statement.

The "realignment" also includes the elimination of 17 positions, including five vacant staff slots.

Nocera was the target of legislative criticism earlier this year when lawmakers blasted  him for selecting a call center in Kansas to promote Florida as a tourism destination. At the time, Nocera told legislators that hiring a midwestern company made sense because Visit Florida directs mail to would-be Florida vacationers around the country.

"Every organization has a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and invested properly," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, chairman of the Senate budget committee that oversees tourism spending. "I appreciate Visit Florida's commitment to new beginnings and look forward to working with them in the future."

-- Breanne Gilpatrick, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:59pm]


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