Bud Nocera is a Florida tourism professional with a resume that few can rival. Following a three-year stint as Director of Sales for the Greater Jacksonville Convention & Visitors Bureau to launch his career, Nocera was chosen in 1983 to be the first Executive Director of the Lee County Tourism Development Council and the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Some 13 years later, Nocera became part of an executive team of travel and tourism marketing leaders who created VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official destination marketing organization, where he served as both Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer for the next 11 years.
Today, Bud Nocera is Executive Director of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, a position he’s held since 2012 and one that he obviously enjoys greatly.
Each issue, “Take Five” poses five questions to a community leader or personality that have not been shared in advance. Here, Bud Nocera discusses the joys of travel, tourism and hospitality marketing in the State of Florida — on a macro scale, and one-on-one with visitors. View this story online here at COASTE digital magazine beginning page 13.
1 How’s business?
Fort Myers Beach has had a remarkable two years — peak season, summer season, shoulder seasons have all been very strong. Lots of smiles, but the trick now is to keep it going.
2 You were part of a group that helped create VISIT FLORIDA, arguably the most respected destination marketing organization in America. What were those early days like?
Back at the time we were building VISIT FLORIDA, I had an analogy that worked well: We were designing and building a jumbo jet while at the same time we were navigating it at 30,000 feet with 400 passengers in the back who needed to get to their destination.
3 You also led the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. You must be proud of the contributions you’ve made to both organizations.
I’m very proud of both organizations and it’s much like being a parent. It’s wonderful to be able to sit back and watch what your kids accomplish now that they’re grown.
4 And now you’re the champion for Fort Myers Beach. How is that?
This is perhaps the most fun job of my career. It is absolutely wonderful to be part of a small community and to be able to make a difference with an organization like this Chamber of Commerce. It’s one-on-one with business owners who are truly owner-operators. It’s being able to be in a position where I can sit in the information trailer and talk to visitors and provide them with good information on the destination. It’s the ability to be hands on, rather than pushing paper; it’s nowhere near the stress of running a corporation with an $80 million budget and 120 employees. It’s actually very fun and I enjoy it immensely.
5 Pitch me on vacationing on Fort Myers Beach.
You’re gonna love it a lot. First of all, it’s an absolutely gorgeous beach, nice and wide with sugar-fine sand. There are accommodations to suit all budgets from large resorts to bed and breakfasts. We offer a wide variety of great dining experiences, from fine dining to pubs right on the beach. At sunset it’s pretty easy to find an outdoor restaurant with live music and great margaritas. And did I mention the dolphin cruises and fishing? We are lucky to have Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel-Captiva to offer visitors a wide variety of both things to do and rest and relaxation. You’re going to have a great vacation here.
By John Sprecher