Corrada begins task of selling Tampa region to visitors
TAMPA - Santiago Corrada started his first official day Monday as president and chief executive of Tampa Bay & Company, Hillsborough County’s visitors bureau, the same day the industry began its annual celebration of National Tourism Week. The energetic Corrada began getting involved with his new job in early April, when the nine-year veteran of various Tampa city government posts was hired after competition with more than 100 candidates. “Since then I’ve been meeting people and getting in touch with what we must do,” said Corrada, who was chief of staff and troubleshooter for two Tampa mayors and headed the Tampa Convention Center for a year. Corrada discussed his new role Monday with Tribune reporter Ted Jackovics. Responses were edited for brevity.
What is the most urgent issue you must address?
We have a lot to offer here, but many people elsewhere don’t realize all that is available until they visit Tampa. We have to focus on capturing peoples’ interest to draw visitors and business groups.
The board has discussed changing the brand. What is the desired outcome?
We will roll out a new brand in late May or early June. It’s all about selling the region. We are here to sell and sell and sell.
Will the name be changed to something more identifiable with the visitors industry?
We will introduce a new name with the new brand. Name recognition is important. Many have no idea what Tampa Bay & Company is all about.
Is the visitors bureau competitive with Pinellas County’s?
We are supplemental, not competitive. It is about cooperation, not competition. We want to (continue to) partner with Pinellas County.
Is it in the best interests of the two counties for the two bureaus to remain separate?
Yes. Each is backed by separate governments.
How do you account for the Pinellas visitors bureau’s $19.1 million annual budget compared with Hillsborough’s $10.7 million?
We have larger venues that are supported with our bed tax: the Convention Center, the zoo, aquarium and others. We have to be innovative and come up with different ways to attract visitors and more bed taxes.
Must the Convention Center be enhanced to remain competitive with other venues, such as the hotels in Orlando with huge meeting spaces?
I’m not envious of Orlando. The competition among their hotels for business that does not go the Orange County Convention Center is unbelievable. There is a niche for our Convention Center. We have to be careful when we think of expansion, make very methodical plans and make sure they make sense.