|By Beth Kassab, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Jan. 9, 2007 - Jose Estorino, marketing boss for the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, announced his resignation Monday, just as a major two-year advertising campaign is about to get under way.
Estorino's departure also comes as the visitors bureau is searching for a new president, a job for which he had been a candidate.
Spokeswoman Danielle Courtenay said Estorino is leaving to pursue the creation of an Asia-U.S. business-development firm in Hong Kong, where his wife is transferring as part of her job with Walt Disney Co.
Estorino, whose official title is senior vice president for marketing, was out of the office Monday and could not be reached for comment.
"Jose's a good friend; he's a got a great mind for destination marketing," said visitors bureau Chairman Mark McHugh. "There's certainly going to be a gap he's leaving in the organization."
Courtenay said Estorino's last day had not been finalized, but she expected it to be in February after the launch of the $68 million tax-funded marketing strategy for which he oversaw the development.
The plan -- the largest in the history of the bureau because of a recent increase in the Tourist Development Tax -- calls for two 30-second spots to begin airing on cable later this month and then on national network television in early February.
Estorino, who joined the visitors bureau in 1998, unveiled the campaign with the slogan, "Built for families. Made for memories," at an industry lunch last month.
McHugh said that while he's sorry to see Estorino go, the marketing vacancy could be appealing to those seeking the president's job because they would have an opportunity to select someone new at a time when the marketing budget is larger than it has ever been.
He said candidates to replace former President Bill Peeper, who retired in December, are still being interviewed. A decision likely will be made by the end of the month, he said.
McHugh wouldn't discuss how many people are in the running for the job.
"This is their careers, and they really stress the desire for confidentiality," he said. "Certainly we don't want anybody pulling their name out because they might be worried about confidentiality."
Beth Kassab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5448.
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