Selected as the NEW Brevard Tourism Development Office Director, Peter Cranis carved out a few moments from his busy schedule to answer some of our “hard-hitting” questions and we couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity.
To begin with, please give us some background on your personal life.
My parents decided to move to Brevard from Connecticut in 1977, I went to Eau Gallie and then went on to Brevard Comm College. I moved to Orlando to go to the University of Central Florida and got a Bachelors and Masters in Communications. My very first job was a tourism job in Orlando. I worked for Telecom as well as the banking industry, but I always missed working in tourism. I had an opportunity with AAA and had the chance to be the Director of Marketing & Communications. That got me back into the tourism world. From there I went to the VISIT ORLANDO office. I was responsible for promoting tourism and business travel. I was there for 16 years as VP of Consumer Marketing where I led marketing and advertising all over the world, in 8 different countries; it was the highlight of my career. Some things changed, and I had the opportunity to move to Sarasota. I heard about the position opening up at the Travel Office on the Space Coast, it was a perfect opportunity to come back home and promote what I love to do. I’m passionate about it and and I love Brevard and I’m very excited to be back.
What inspired you to do the work you do?
After I had my first exposure to the world of tourism in Orlando, where there’s always a lot going on, I realized the industry as a whole is a great business to be in and, after working for a company that did business worldwide, it’s where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. That was my calling. Having been a resident earlier in my life, and then later on seeing the growth, Brevard is a very inspiring tourist destination because of everything that’s going on here. What’s interesting, and even exciting about it, is the combination of all the Space Coasts industries working hand-in-hand for the greater good of the community and those who come to visit; it’s something you don’t see in a lot of destinations. I have traveled and lived in Florida for over 40 years, I’ve been to many different beaches, but nobody else has the natural resources, space and technology programs, in addition to a plethora of different businesses that we have here and that in itself is very inspiring.
I lived in Connecticut for a good portion of my childhood, but when I moved to Florida there was nothing like what the Space Coast had. It’s just an amazing place. The sun, the sea, the landscape; it’s all just very, very special and I fell in love. I played a lot of tennis growing up and so having the sunshine over 300 days a year, always being able to go outside, was a great thing. Being from Cape Canaveral I got to do a lot: Jetty Park, watch the cruise ships from the Port, we had also lived on the 5th floor in a condo so I got to watch rocket launches from my balcony. So many things that were special to me, and though I won’t be living right on the beach this time around, my wife and I will absolutely enjoy all those things and more. Having lived in Orlando, I realized the beach life has its own personality; the simple fact of being able to walk to the beach and watch the sunrise or sit by the river watching birds fly over as the sun was setting, was missing from my life. It soothes the soul and I love it.
Whatisone thing you hope to achieve when you begin in your position?
Whenever you start a new role, especially something as significant as this, I want to spend a lot of time learning and listening and really trying to understand where we currently are from different aspects. But my biggest hope is really to build on the success of my predecessors, working with both political and tourism leaders, and all the great people in the community. This is not a job that you do on your own, or by yourself. You have to work with people and develop a lot of synergies and relationships, and that’s definitely a big goal of mine. I’m looking forward to working with as many people as possible, listening to their ideas, all for a common cause, which is to build the tourism business and provide for the Space Coast. Doing so will have a positive impact on the community and the people that live here by creating jobs that create business opportunities and will create more tourism development tax.
I know one big project here is related to the Indian River Lagoon, obviously there’s some legislated collection of money to help refurbish it but there’s also tourist development tax being spent on various projects as well. It’s exciting to me to see that the work that we’re doing is actually turning around and being reinvested into the community to help everyone. So it will help. Certainly it will help tourism, but more importantly, it’s going to help the residents as well.
In Relation to the discussion of thehealthofourlocalenvironment,whichare protectedandimportanttous, we’d like to know ifyouhaveanyplansforLori Wilsonpark inCocoaBeach?
I am aware that one of the projects on our list is Lori Wilson Park, and I plan to get up to speed on the needs of the park very quickly and look into what kind of financial resources we have allocated. I grew up with that park and I have a personal and emotional attachment to it. I’ve surfed, swam, and enjoyed its grounds for many years, so I want to make it a great place for visitors and residents alike. We don’t necessarily want to rush anything and make sure we have the right people and experts along side to ensure we take every aspect into consideration, and ensure that wildlife is not impacted by anything we do. Preserving and keeping nature safe is a big factor and something we will always have in mind. I believe as more people come to appreciate natural beauty, more people will have an interest in that side of things as well and making sure that we do all the projects that we can for the Indian River Lagoon, Lori Wilson Park, and for the community nourishment, helps ensure those little pieces of paradise continue to exist.
Wheredoyouseethe futureoftheSpaceCoastgoingin 2019?
I believe the future of tourism, for everyone along the Space Coast, is extremely bright. If it is managed properly, it will be here for generations to come. I’ve had many talks with people, in and out of Brevard, and as more and more people discover us, they will only continue to come back with their children, family and friends, and their children will do the same. I see growth already, and though the economy may go up and down, it’s just the natural cycle of things. But even with that, people still want vacations, there will always be a role for the tourism industry and I’m so blessed and excited to be a part of that. The nice thing about tourists, and one of the things i really love about the industry, is people come and experience the destination. They spend their money and help businesses thrive, and then they leave. They go back to their own home and tell all of their friends and family about what a great time they had. We’re very lucky in the whole state of Florida, tourism is such a big driver of the economy. I think that it’s important to keep that in perspective and understand there’s ways to do things properly. You just have to manage the growth in a way that makes sense. I think the tourism and political leaders, and Brevard as a whole, see that. We are a community and I believe everyone has the best interest of the community at heart.
My wife and I will be very excited to get back to the beach. We’re going to be “local tourists”, so we’re going to be able to experience all the wonderful things that we love doing. Whether it be the food, the attractions, the nature; when we get settled, we’re just going to immerse ourselves in everything that the Space Coast has to offer. That’s really what we plan to do with our spare time. Amazing restaurants, events and festivals, concerts, arts and cultural activities; there’s no shortage of things to enjoy.
Do you have any closing words?
I have two things I want to say to the residents of the Space Coast. One is please feel free to come by. Tourists stop in and say hi to our little visitor areas often. They pick up brochures and come in to see what we have to offer. Just because you’re a local doesn’t mean you’re not welcome. My attitude towards life has always been “great ideas can come from anywhere”. If anybody wants to come in and they’ve got some thoughts about ways to promote tourism and more to market the Space Coast, we’re all ears. The second thing is for those residents who read your publication, who are a part of the tourism industry, I want to thank them for all they do and remind them that they are our great brand ambassadors. What I mean by that is they’re the ones that are actually talking to the tourists at the front line; the servers, the people at the front desk, the people that work in the attractions; they’re the ones that come into contact with the visitors, and they remember the way they’re treated by those team members. They remember the smile, the nod, the kind person helping them and guiding them on where to go. That’s the lifeblood of the tourism business. I know many of them read your publication and I think that’s great, because they need to know what’s going on so they can help people when they come into town and want to know what they should do or what they should see. They’re the boots on the ground, if you will. They’re very critical to our industry and making sure that people come back. So thank you for all you do.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, A LEADER HAS EMERGED…