Whitehurst takes over as tourism director

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By Sean Arnold

After recasting its advertisement for a new tourism director, with more of an emphasis on marketing, the county turned inward to find the candidate it was looking for.

Tisha Whitehurst, the current grants coordinator for Levy County, was warmly welcomed at the County Commission meeting Jan. 23 as the new director of tourism. Whitehurst will remain the grants coordinator.

“We’re just piling on, don’t worry about the mule or the wagon,” Commission chairman John Meeks said jokingly at the meeting of Whitehurst wearing multiple hats.

The jobs are far from unrelated, however.

As grants coordinator, Whitehurst also coordinated the county’s interests with regards to the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012), a federal law that directs fines from BP and others responsible for the Gulf oil spill disaster of 2010 toward improving the ecosystems and economies of the Gulf communities.

“Because the RESTORE Act includes tourism (in the acronym, my job as tourism director) will fit nicely with the RESTORE Act,” Whitehurst said.

“I appreciate to opportunity to serve as Levy County’s new tourism director. It’s very exciting, it’s going to work out very well.”

The tourism director is the only full-time employee in the tourism department in Levy County.

“Thank you for grabbing hold of another job and running with it,” Commission Mike Joyner said to Whitehurst.

Whitehurst succeeds Carol McQueen, who served 12 years as director as well as with various Florida tourism commissions and boards, including the Governor’s Commission on Tourism in 2009 and 2010.