Know the city | Know the industry

Category: Op Ed

Op/Ed- TASTE! shouldn’t be a thing, but it is, so let’s support it until we no longer need it!

I often cover issues related to pay and the struggles of Central Floridians in the local tourism industry here on Orlando Tourism Report and if any if you have even listened even once then you know that I’m passionate about ensuring we have a strong tourism workforce. But that can only happen if they’re healthy, happy, and willing to stay here.

In Central Florida, 1 in 6 people struggle with food insecurity. 44.5% of Florida households cannot afford basic needs such as housing, childcare, food, health care, and transportation – the vast majority of these families are working. As we work to ensure better pay in the hospitality industry, and in return better pay across the board in Central Florida. there is something else we can do to ensure that ALL Central Floridians are able to fall asleep every night with full stomachs.

The newly re-branded TASTE! Central Florida is this Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 6:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. I’m convinced this is the BEST foodie event of the year in Central Florida. If you’re a fan of the various food and wine events at the local theme parks you’ll love TASTE! It has well over 100 local restaurants who showcase the amazing creativity of their chefs with bite-sized dishes using the finest of ingredients.

Yes, tickets at $150 are a bit pricey but that’s honestly less than I spent at Epcot’s Food & Wine fest last time I went there and the proceeds from this go to a great cause. Both the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida are supported by the event. Approximately 498,000 individuals turn to Second Harvest’s food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their family each year.

This year’s event will include OTR favorites like Yak & Yeti, Universal Orlando, STK, Satu-Li Canteen, SeaWorld, Raglan Road, Paddlefish, and tons of other local restaurants.

The food (and wine!) isn’t the only reason to go to the event. A silent auction has plenty of amazing Central Florida focused items with donations from many of the area’s hospitality leaders. A wine ring toss, the Edible Orlando Giving Tree, a wine cellar giveaway, and many more events take place throughout the evening helping make this one of the most enjoyable evenings of the year. And unlike the parks you don’t have to stand outside when going from booth to booth.

There’s a lot more we can and should be doing to ensure that the 113 million more meals needed per year to fill the hunger gap in our community is a thing of the past but TASTE! is a great first step in that direction. This year, instead of a hot and muggy day of food and wine in a theme park (or on top of it), why don’t you visit the air-conditioned foodie wonderland of TASTE! Central Florida.

TASTE! Central Florida takes place this Saturday, August 18 from 6:45-10:00PM at the Orlando World Center Marriott (the world’s largest Marriott!).

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BUY TICKETS HERE

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Op/Ed – This Disney Decade Let’s Stay Level Headed by Ken Storey

By Ken Storey

The 1990s are known as the “Disney Decade” because of the massive growth at WDW under Eisner. Now we are in the early stages of another Disney Decade. This time, though, the massive growth here in Orlando will be paired with significant changes throughout the Disney corporation including the likely retirement of Disney’s current CEO and the complete restructuring of the media juggernaut ESPN.

With this in mind, I want to speak directly to my colleagues in the Central Florida tourism citizen journalist field. We must ensure that we continue to improve our accountability, our accuracy, and our overall quality of reporting.

Over the next few years many projects throughout the Disney corporation, and especially here in Orlando, will begin. Anytime a project, especially a local construction project, in under planning or construction many of us are given details before official confirmation on them. Often these details are afforded to us by our friends, coworkers, and Central Florida neighbors. It is our responsibility to ensure that any of these details we deem as necessary to publish are done so in such a way as to not put anyone’s employment in question or to share details that would be a danger to public safety. It’s better not to be first with a story than to cause a person their job.

These details are shared to us by those who we trust but even in such situations we, as a citizen journalist, must take a page out of our siblings in the mainstream media and verify details multiple times from various sources before announcing them.

Also, understand that as projects evolve plans do change. Just because someone might share something that later on proves to be incorrect doesn’t mean that person can’t be trusted, it only means they don’t know the whole story, but few people rarely do.

Anytime construction projects happen here in Central Florida details, and sometimes documents, are shared with many of us. Never publish these documents. They are usually specific to a group of subcontractors and sharing them could not only cost a single individual their job but could easily cost hundreds of locals their jobs. These documents also typically show both public and back of house areas. Sharing details on these back of house areas can be used by individuals who are seeking to cause harm to the public. It is our responsibility with the knowledge we are given to share it in such a way to that provides accurate recording while also protecting the general public from unnecessary safety lapses.

With website and social media rankings ever changing it’s important that we keep our heads when information and events are provided to us. No longer is being first most important. Quality, clarity, and trustworthiness is much greater than uploading a post mere seconds before someone else.

It is paramount that as we head into this new Disney Decade, we do so with plans in place on how to properly cover the endless tsunami of news that will define this great time to be a Central Florida tourism citizen journalist. Remember that we are all in this together, no story is worth someone’s job, and accuracy is more important than being first. With these things in mind we can make this Disney expansion era even greater than the last one because, unlike then, we can cover this like never before.

I hope you’re as excited as I am to be a part of such a great time in Central Florida history.

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