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NW Florida Ecotourism Summit Logo

Northwest Florida Ecotourism Summit

February 25, 2020

Florida State University Panama City Campus

Holley Academic Center

8:00 am – 5:00pm

Florida State University, Panama City is excited to team up with Explore Northwest Florida to host the Northwest Florida Ecotourism Summit on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. According to the United Nations Travel Organization, Ecotourism is the fastest growing segment within the travel industry.

The summit will attract industry leaders, educators, students, potential new businesses and eco-friendly enthusiasts to Panama City to enhance our ecotourism communities in the Florida Panhandle.

Participation in this event enhances awareness of educational opportunities, fosters community engagement, and expands business partnerships.  Our objectives through this Summit are to:

    • Promote  Ecotourism best practices in business development, marketing, risk management, and operations
    • Educate on Sustainable Ecotourism
    • Encourage Ecotourism Ethics / Wildlife Disturbance Issues
    • Explore available resources from FSU PC, Explore Northwest Florida and other Ecotourism support organizations

Join us as we learn from industry leaders, government officials and organization, along with industry and resource panels. 

 The 2020 Summit format includes:

  • General sessions – Welcome
    • Kick-Off Speaker – Dan Rowe, Visit Panama City Beach
    • Keynote Speaker – Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida
  • Breakout sessions – Three different times with three different tracts to choose from each session
    • Hidden Resources
    • Marketing & Business Development
    • Education
  • Industry and Resource panels for Q&A.

Explore our exciting vendor expo, networking opportunities, and informative resources from ecotourism support organizations.


General Public/Professional  $20

Students    $10

Key Note Speaker Only $15



KeyNote Speaker

Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO

Dana Young CEO Visit Florida headshot

As VISIT FLORIDA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry.

Throughout her career, Dana has served in leadership positions working to cultivate and protect Florida’s exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life. As an attorney at Fowler, White, Boggs, P.A. in Tampa, she represented a broad spectrum of businesses, landowners, and individuals in areas of regulatory compliance, permitting, zoning, and administrative law proceedings.

Dana served in the Florida House from 2010 through 2016, rising to Majority Leader for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. In 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate, where she represented parts of western Hillsborough County for two years. Dana was recommended for the VISIT FLORIDA position by Governor Ron DeSantis and was unanimously approved by the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors on January 7, 2019. In addition to her duties as President and CEO, she is a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Chairman’s Circle.

Dana is a sixth-generation Floridian and was born and raised in Tallahassee. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University and, in pursuit of her interest in law and public policy, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1993. In her free time, Dana enjoys spending time in natural Florida and tarpon fishing with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Alexandra and Carson.

Kick-Off Speaker

Dan Rowe, President & CEO Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

Dan Rowe is President and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and executive director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC).

In this dual role, Rowe is responsible for the development and implementation of the marketing and public relations efforts for the CVB, as well as overseeing Panama City Beach’s federal beach renourishment project. He continuously promotes Panama City Beach as a REAL.FUN.BEACH, offering something fun for everyone on a year-round basis. His strategies have proven to be successful as the destination continues to see significant increases in visitation year after year.

In 2010, Rowe welcomed the opening of the $318 million Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City Beach. Serviced by Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United and Silver Airways, the airport has quickly proven to be a catalyst in attracting new travelers to the Gulf Coast.

Rowe also led Panama City Beach’s tourism efforts through the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. He quickly became the media spokesperson for the region, countering travelers’ concerns about the impact on the area’s beaches. He also drove the community to partner together on several initiatives including vacation guarantee programs, gift card incentives and a Summer of Fun calendar of special events. Rowe’s quick thinking and publicity on national news outlets such as CNN, Fox Business, The Weather Channel and NPR attracted the attention of the Obama administration which resulted in a visit by the First Lady followed by a summer vacation in Panama City Beach for the First Family.

In 2012, HSMAI recognized Rowe as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales & Marketing for his work during the crisis. 

Rowe has also served as chairman of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations and currently serves as the vice-chairman of Visit Florida’s International Committee. 

Additional NWFL Ecotourism Summit Presenters

  • Brett Cyphers, Executive Director, NWF Water Management District
  • Dr. Glen Aiken, Director, NF Research & Education Center,UF IFAS
  • Kristy Terry, Executive Director, North Florida Inland Long-Term Recovery Group
  • Anne Glick, Wildlife Viewing Program Administrator, FWC
  • Dr. Sandra Halvorson, FSU PC – Communications
  • Brian Baber, MS FSU PC – Entrepreneurship
  • Ray Windham, Lilypad Adventures
  • Michael O’Brian Garcia, Florida Olive Grower Association
  • Nick Phoenix, Coldwater Gardens (Aquaponics & Events)
  • Shawn Brown, Visit Pensacola
  • Scott Jackson, UF – IFAS (Master Naturalist)
  • Chef Paul Ashman, GCSC Culinary Program & Sea Screamer
  • Dr. Michael Wallace, FSU  PC – Communication
  • Tracee Watkins, MBA – FSU PC – Hospitality & Tourism
  • Joy Saddler, MS, CHE – FSU PC – RTE, Hospitality & Tourism
  • Chuck Hatcher, Assistant Director of Recreation & Parks, DEP

Hotel Accommodations:

Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort  – $141 per night – no booking deadline.

Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf spa logo

Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort participates in Marriott’s Make a Green Choice program and Serve 360. We are committed to making a positive impact by integrating sustainability and social impact practices across our operations. With company-wide goals guiding our efforts, we are working to improve our environmental footprint and strengthen our engagement within the communities we serve.

Book your group rate for NW Ecotourism Summit February 2020


Directions to Florida State University Panama City Campus, Holley Academic Center



For more information contact:

Joy Saddler, FSU at jsaddler@fsu.edu 850.420.9439 or

Betty Webb, ENWFL at bettytaylor.webb@gmail.com 850-323-0567



Gulf Coast State College Culinary Logo

Contential Breakfast provided by Gold Coast State College Culinary Program


Lunch Provided by Beau’s Restaurant, Chef Chris Infinger, Gulf Coast State College Culinary Graduate