Since 2001, the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame acknowledges contemporary and historic figures whose vision, creativity and drive have had a positive and significant impact on the development of Florida as a desirable visitor destination. One individual is chosen annually and announced during the Governor's Conference on Tourism. The award is presented on behalf of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. For more information, visit FloridaTourismHallofFame.org or email HallofFame@visitflorida.org.
Nominations are currently closed.
The next nomination period will begin in spring 2023.
Inducted in 2022:
The 2022 Florida Tourism Hall of Fame inductee is Christopher L. Thompson.
For more than three decades, Chris has distinguished himself as a highly respected industry and community leader, serving as President and CEO of Brand USA since 2012. In this role, Chris is responsible for accelerating the organization’s efforts to build and execute effective marketing strategies to increase U.S. travel exports, create jobs, strengthen the economy, and help enhance the image of the United States with people all over the world. Under Chris’ leadership, Brand USA has nearly tripled its partnership network and more than doubled its partner contributions and program offerings.
He began his career in tourism with the Division of Tourism in the former Florida Department of Commerce in April 1983, and he became bureau chief for domestic tourism in April 1986. In November 1988, he joined the Leon County Tourist Development Council as the organization’s first executive director, and in April 1991, he took leadership of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau as President and CEO. In August 1995, Chris founded MarketServe, Inc., a professional management, marketing and planning services company based in Tallahassee. Two years later, he joined VISIT FLORIDA as Senior Vice President of Partner Development. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in May 2003, and named President and CEO in May 2009.
Throughout his career, Chris has been honored with a number of industry awards and recognized for numerous accomplishments, including being named the first recipient of Skål International’s USA National Tourism Leadership Award in 2018 in recognition of his “very meaningful contribution to the growth and success of tourism in the United States.” In 2015, Chris received the NTA National Tour Association's (NTA) Pioneer Award for his accomplishments in producing significant changes in the travel industry. He was named one of the "Top Twenty-Five Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing" by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International in both 2009 and 2013.
Chris is currently on the board of Destinations International, where he is on the organization’s Executive and Global Leadership committees. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute, an entity within the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management at the University of Florida. A Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) since May 2010, Chris has also been a member of and served on the leadership boards of numerous other national, regional, state, and local trade associations and organizations. The list includes the U.S. Travel Association; U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (to the Secretary of Commerce); Travel and Tourism Advisory Council (to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Miami Branch); Association of Travel Marketing Executives; Southeast Tourism Society; and Skål. Chris’ experience, expertise, and dedication have been essential to the success of Florida’s tourism industry, and continue to make a positive impact on travelers from all over the world.