The Dick Pope Senior Institute for Tourism Studies, housed in the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, is pleased to announce its partnership with the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (BACVB). Together, they have created the Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key Certified Destination Ambassador Program, the first of its kind in the State of Florida. The program was announced during the BACVB’s 2013 National Tourism Week luncheon on May 8th.

“As a leader in hospitality management, we’re thrilled to partner with UCF’s Rosen College to create this unique program that will engage our local residents and businesses in showing visitors to our area just how special it is,” said Elliott Falcione, executive director, BACVB. “What better way to tell our story than by those who are living it?”

The Certified Destination Ambassador Program was tailored to reflect the specifics of visitation to the Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area. The BACVB worked closely with the research arm of UCF’s Rosen College to develop the professional development program, which was designed to have academic integrity. The resulting Certified Destination Ambassador Program encourages members of the community to have a working knowledge of the area in regards to visitation.

“Our mission is to support the tourism industry throughout Central Florida,” said Dr. Robertico Croes, director of the Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies at UCF’s Rosen College. “Through this partnership, we will provide training programs and research support to the BACVB, which will ultimately help strengthen the area’s tourism industry.”

Steps to becoming a Certified Destination Ambassador include attending BACVB Ambassador Summits, offering suggestions and recruiting other Ambassadors within industries, and creating personal plans to influence return visitation to the area.

In addition, the Ambassadors are asked to support the BACVB and the Ambassador Program by using social media to promote the area, displaying the Ambassador identification at business locations and actively represent the area as a member of their local industry associations. The Certified Destination Ambassador program is an earned, permanent designation and can be viewed as a part of each Ambassador’s professional credentials.

For more information regarding the application process, please visit

The Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area is located on Florida’s gulf coast between St. Petersburg and Sarasota. The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau promotes tourism to Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area and the rest of Manatee County, including Palmetto, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Cortez, Ellenton, Myakka City, Ft. Hamer, Lakewood Ranch and Parrish, through domestic and international advertising, public relations and marketing efforts. For more information on the Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area, please visit

Since 1979, the Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies has been conducting proprietary and public domain research, promulgating information to the public at large about the contributions of the hospitality and tourism industry, especially along economic, sociological, environmental, and quality-of-life dimensions, and carrying out credit and non-credit educational activities. Research has been conducted in countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, China, Aruba, Ecuador, South Africa and South Korea for destination management organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, hotels, hospitals, vacation homes, restaurants, theme parks and more.