It’s a big week for the Travel and Tourism industries across the nation and chance for us to say thank you for all they do. We get the scoop with Flagler County Tourism’s Executive Director, Amy Lukasik, on why this is so important.

Tell readers a bit about yourself and how you got into the tourism industry. 

I’ve lived in Flagler County going on 16 years now and are raising my two children here. I grew up in Tampa, then moved to South Florida for a couple of years for college then moved to Orlando where I lived a little over 10 years.

For the past 30 years, I have been in the tourism, hospitality, and customer service industry in one way shape or form and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s truly a passion and once it’s in your blood, you can become hooked. I guess you could say my first exposure to “tourism” was actually through working in retail in South Florida where 90% of our customers were tourist. You begin to learn their habits, behaviors and expectations when visiting your community. When I moved to Orlando, I was in management for Walt Disney World for their retail division so once you have been exposed to the level of service and the expectation to create memorable experiences for guests, your pretty close to the pinnacle in the industry.

Flagler’s Tourism Office has focused on a number of issues over the years in search of an identity for the community, creating a number of opportunities to showcase Flagler’s diversity from the beaches to sports. How has this helped craft a well-rounded destination? 

 In late 2019, a tourism strategic plan was developed through the participation and input of elected officials, local stakeholders, industry partners and the community to help guide the organizations priorities for the next few years. Unfortunately, many of the objectives were slowed down through the pandemic as we had to quickly shift our focus to be able to respond accordingly. Once the industry began to bounce back, we got back to work on one of our main goals which is to assist local arts, culture, and historical groups form a county wide cultural council. In the sports arena, our fields are busier than ever and it’s time to start looking at conducting a facility feasibility study to see what and where are the needs for the next phase of expansion. We will be partnering with municipalities and stakeholders so that we aren’t duplicating efforts and more of combining resources when it makes sense to do so.

Tourism and hospitality employees are the lifeblood of a welcoming community. How does recognizing them during National Travel & Tourism Week help give them that much needed thank you? 

They truly do not get enough appreciation and recognition from the public, especially during these times of staff shortages, so it is a no brainer for us to try and do as much as we can to let them know “hey, we see you and appreciate you choosing to show up each and every day.”

Florida is a state where the tourism industry is working 24/7 to welcome guests from around the globe. How can we as locals show our appreciation to our friends and neighbors in the industry? 

Take the time to verbally show your support and appreciation, leave a little extra tip if you can, give them a gift card for them to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant-even a cup of coffee goes a long way.

What’s the most important takeaway message for National Travel & Tourism Week from the Flagler Tourism Office? 

Tourism is here to stay in Flagler County. It’s one of the top industries in the state and county.  But that doesn’t mean residents and visitors can’t co-exists together. With all the recent boom in growth, we now must turn our efforts on sustainability. What is the best way to balance the quality of life for residents while still being able to support local businesses? We will once again turn to the community for those answers and work hand in hand with our partners for those solutions.

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