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Prestigious Nominations Unveiled for the 32nd South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award



It's that time of the year again! We are thrilled to unveil the exceptional nominees for the 32nd Annual South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award.

The nominees will be recognized with an award made by the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Board at the luncheon, to be held on November 16, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Miami, the Presenting Sponsor of the event.



These hospitality trailblazers have dedicated themselves to promoting our beautiful region, enhancing the visitor experience, and giving back to their community Our industry is well represented with a fantastic group of leaders nominated this year for this prestigious award. Here are our 2023 nominees:

  • Bibi Andrade, Bibi Art Media, Inc.

  • Julissa Kepner, Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay

  • Mychal Milian, Marriott, and AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Airport

  • Jonathan Plutzik, The Betsy South Beach

  • Eric Poms, Orange Bowl Committee

  • Gene Prescott, Seaway Hotels Group

  • Ceci Velasco, Ocean Drive Association

Distinguished past recipients of the South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award include, Steve Atkins, President of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Peter Ricci, Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Paul George, History Miami, George Neary, Tours “R” Us, Wendy Kallergis, GMBHA, Henry Delgado, Smith & Wollensky, Rocco Angelo, Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, William Talbert, III, Alvin West, Sr. Retired GMCVB, and Academy Founders, Stuart Blumberg, Retired, Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, Bob Dickinson, Retired, Carnival Cruise Lines, and the late Alyce Robertson, Miami Dade Downtown Development Authority, Tony Goldman, Goldman Properties, and Jeanne Westphal.


This year’s event features great speakers including Jane Wooldridge an award-winning business, arts and travel multimedia journalist and veteran of the Miami Herald.


Currently she serves as Senior Director of Development. In this community-focused role, she works with civic, arts and business organizations and foundations to create strategic, tax-deductible partnerships supporting public service journalism amid a fast-fluctuating media landscape.


Previously she was the Miami Herald’s Travel Editor, winning top honors as both an editor and individual Journalist of the Year in the prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards.


Jane Wooldridge


Between personal and business travel, she has visited more than 100 countries and contributed to national magazines and books. She is a Past President of the Society of American Travel Writers and serves on the boards of the SATW Foundation, the Local Media Foundation and Friends of the Underline.


The Hyatt Regency Miami is the Presenting Sponsor of the event with Show Technology, a South Florida based audio visual production company, a long-time supporter of the event as a Signature Sponsor. Additional sponsors will be announced in the coming weeks.

Celebrating 36 years of success, the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism is a member of the non-profit, NAF. NAF has refined a proven model that provides young people access to industry-specific curricular, work-based learning experiences and prepares them for college and industry careers. Academies (Hospitality & Tourism, Culinary, Education, and Arts and Entertainment) are in 20 Miami-Dade County public high schools. Proceeds of the luncheon benefit work-based learning activities and scholarships for AOHT students and professional development for teachers.


Tickets for the South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award luncheon are $135.00 for an individual ticket or $1350 for a table/vendor sponsorship. To learn more click here.


By ML Staff. Images courtesy of South Florida Tourism Professional of the Year Award

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