Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach VCB Welcomes Director Wendie Vestfall

Charlotte County’s new tourism development director comes to her position with almost three decades of marketing experience as well as years of familiarity with and affection for all that her new home has to offer visitors and residents alike.

“My affection for the area stems from having visited family that has lived in the region for years. My parents have a house in Punta Gorda, so this is not an area new to me,” Wendie shares. “My uncle also has been in the Punta Gorda/Cape Coral area since the 70s.”

Prior to relocating to Charlotte County, Vestfall was president of Kent County Tourism in Dover, Delaware, a destination similar to Charlotte County in terms of population, quaint ambiance and bountiful access to water activities. Vestfall commented that her relocation was timely and revealed a major difference between the two locales, having started her new job on February 20.

“When we moved down here, we left in a pretty major snowstorm,” Wendie laughs. “So it was really nice as we moved closer to the Florida border to see the sunshine and the warm weather.”

Along with sunny skies and balmy temperatures, Vestfall says she inherited a marketing campaign called Beach Ready, which she is continuing now that last year’s red tide crisis is over. And the new director was out in the community scouting video locations for a new marketing campaign when FADMO dialed in for a quick telephone interview. The campaign is titled Outsiders Welcome, “since we know the outside is our best side,” she says.

The biggest thing on the destination’s horizon is Allegiant Airlines’ Sunseeker Resorts Charlotte Harbor, which plans to open in fall 2020.

“The airline bought 22 acres here on Charlotte Harbor,” Wendie reveals. “[The resort will have] 700 hotel rooms and over 72,000 feet of meeting space. So, it’s going to change landscapes here. We are going to be embarking on a master tourism plan over the next year as everybody adjusts to having such a large attraction come to our area, having our partners work with them and vice versa, and getting the word out.”

Vestfall says she is looking forward to attending FADMO’s Destination Marketing Summit to be held May 22-24 in Jensen Beach.

“Chip [Futch, the VCB’s marketing director] signed me up for that the first day I was in the office,” she laughs. “I’m looking forward to meeting people, making new friends and sharing best practices and stories of what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”

Vestfall previously served as marketing and communications director for Discover Prince William & Manassas, Virginia, and has over 28 years of marketing and public relations experience. She holds a BA in business and organizational communications, PR/marketing from the University of Akron (Ohio). Originally from Cleveland, she spent more than 18 years in the Washington, D.C., area before moving to Delaware.