From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

From “Hello Sunny” to “Waterfront. Wonderful” : Josh Winston, Director of Tourism

Josh Winston
Josh Winston

While I usually dedicate this space to what is happening in the harbor and information about new businesses opening, after I got a press release from my pal Molly that announced National Harbor’s hiring of a Director of Tourism I decided it may be a good idea to check him out! Josh Winston and I met at the Public House – one of the Old Town Crier’s favorite spots in the harbor – for a beverage in the late afternoon and got to know each other. This was one of those situations where you just know you are going to hit it off from almost the beginning of the conversation.

National Harbor attracts approximately 11 million visitors each year, and was recognized for the first time in Cvent, Inc.’s “Top 50 Meeting Destination in the United States” 2013 list as the 26th most popular meeting destination in the country. With these figures and the continued growth of the Harbor since Tanger opened the outlets last fall, the Capital Wheel being erected this spring and the upcoming opening of the MGM National Harbor in 2016, Peterson Companies decided it may be a good idea to bring on a tourism professional.

According to the press release, “In his new role as Director of Tourism for National Harbor, Winston will be responsible for heightening the awareness of National Harbor and all of its collective partners to the tour and travel industry. He will lead all sales initiatives to drive both domestic and international leisure travelers to the destination. Winston comes to National Harbor from his role as Director of Domestic Sales for The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, he facilitated and developed key strategic industry relationships for one of the country’s largest leisure travel destinations. Winston has received numerous awards for excellence” in sales from The National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), Professional Travel Agents of North America (PTANA), and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).”

I wanted to know a little bit about his personal life since that can give you good insight to where people are coming from on a professional footing as well. He was very forthcoming. Josh was born and raised on Cape Cod, MA and went to school at American University in Washington, interning for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.  He met his partner, Mike, while in DC at the now closed ‘DC Eagle’.  They moved to Fort Lauderdale together in 2003.  Mike works for American Airlines and Josh sold government and leisure tourism for a cluster of Hilton properties there, before transitioning to his best known role as Director of Domestic Sales for The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.  There, he spent many years as the face of Fort Lauderdale, traversing the US and Canada to promote the destination to the travel industry.

Gia and Milania
Gia and Milania

I found out that Josh is a major animal lover. That is always a good indication that someone is a solid person! He and Mike adopted their large, pit-mix dogs, ‘Gia’ and ‘Milania’ (names taken from Real Housewives of New Jersey star Theresa Giuduce’s daughters of the same names) from Abandoned Pet Rescue in Fort Lauderdale. The pups were raised by Josh’s self-proclaimed “very large” tabby, Millie, who runs the household to this day.

After many years in the sunshine, they decided it may be a good idea to make a change. For those of you who are dreaming about retiring to the sunny state of Florida, this may seem like an odd choice, however, both are excited about their transition back to Maryland for some fall weather and the change of seasons.

After our two hour gab session, I have no doubt that he will more than exceed the expectations of this new position. He has pretty much hit the ground floor running and has been making every effort to meet those people in the metro area who will be key allies in the future, the Old Town Crier included. We here at the Crier remain dedicated to helping make National Harbor the success story Milt Peterson is hoping for and helping Josh in his transition is another step in doing so.

Written by: Lani Gering

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