FORT LAUDERDALE — The Seminole Tribe of Florida, along with 13 other members of the Broward County hospitality industry, was inducted into TravelHost of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Tourism Hall of Fame Feb. 5 during a reception celebrating the magazine’s 35th anniversary.
TravelHost publisher Ina Lee chose honorees based on longevity and impact on area tourism.
“The Seminoles were here in the beginning,” Lee said. “We stand on their shoulders. As they have grown and developed, they have transformed the destination. They are our heritage.”
President Tony Sanchez Jr. accepted the honor on behalf of the Tribe.
“Who would have thought that when we started high stakes bingo in 1979, Seminole Gaming would evolve into what it is today,” he said. “And the ride isn’t over yet.”
Tribal members Daniel Tommie, Marty Johns and Larry Frank joined President Sanchez; Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International; and John Fontana, president of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, for the event at the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum.
“This is a good day for the Tribe,” Allen said. “Seminole Gaming is also having its 35-year anniversary.”
Tommie recognized the impact gaming has had on the Tribe.
“As a Tribal member, it’s a high privilege and honor to be recognized in this capacity,” he said. “[Chairman James E. Billie] is the first one who started this lucrative business; we are fortunate to have him. It’s been good for us and for our infrastructure; it’s been very positive.”
Lee said 312 million visitors spent $203 billion in Broward County over the last 100 years.
The other inductees in the hall of fame included the Wells family (Las Olas Boulevard and Riverside Hotel), the Gill family (The Escape Hotel, Jolly Roger, Yankee Clipper), the Banks family (Lago Mar Resort & Club), the Ireland and Mitchell family (hoteliers), Nicki E. Grossman (president, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau), Ramola and Bob Motwani (hoteliers), 15th Street Fisheries restaurant, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, The Galleria mall, Jungle Queen Riverboat, Mai-Kai restaurant and Stranahan House.