TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ — In 1559, Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna landed on the shore of what is now Pensacola and attempted the first major European settlement in the United States. Honoring its unique place in American history, HRH Juan Carlos Borbon and Dona Sofia de Borbon of Spain will make an official visit to Pensacola on the 19th of February 2009. There they will speak to the public from the TT Wentworth Museum, located in the Pensacola Historic District, and they will also attend a luncheon with local business and political leaders.

«This official visit of the King and Queen of Spain recognizes and commemorates the Spanish heritage in Pensacola and across the entire State of Florida,» said Bud Nocera, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. «We are extraordinarily honored to receive the King and Queen of Spain to highlight the Spanish legacy throughout our state.»

The royal visit is part of a statewide marketing emphasis to promote heritage-based travel to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA, the private-public state tourism organization, hopes to garner support from its considerable tourism partner base to raise awareness of Florida’s rich Spanish colonial heritage. Later this spring, VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida-Spain Heritage Celebration Committee will introduce the Hispanic Heritage Trail Guidebook and website tracing the conquistador’s route to attract individuals and families interested in exploring the Spanish cultural and historic legacy in the state. The effort touches each of the many historic sites found throughout Florida.

The sites include St. Augustine, the oldest Spanish settlement in Florida, and many others with newer Spanish footprints including Key West, Tampa, Miami and Orlando. The heritage tourism marketing initiative is organized by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism organization, which is supporting Visit Pensacola, the local tourism board, and Celebrate Pensacola in its own heritage-based marketing program and commemoration.

The Pensacola Bay area, which is commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Spanish arrival in 2009, will host a string of special events beginning with the Pensacola Wine Festival from April 2-5, 2009. Highlights include wine classes, Gallery night, gourmet dinner, festive paella, and Grand wine tasting and tapas.

To recognize this indelible Spanish legacy, Celebrate Pensacola launched a three year campaign to bring the royal family to its shores and to commemorate the history that began with Don Tristan de Luna’s 1500-person mission. Pensacola has also scheduled numerous events through the coming year, including an exhibit by artist Miguel Zapata, a reenactment of the Battle of Pensacola, a Spanish Heritage Festival, a visit by the tall ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a commemoration of Don Tristan de Luna’s landfall, concerts and much more.

For information about Pensacola, please visit www.celebratepensacola.com.

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