This interview went right down to the wire with me bringing it all together – with the assistance of Ms. Dorcas Piegari – at the 11th hour. They say that patience is a virtue; I say -- except when it comes to publishing deadlines. Smile! As a Miami native I have gone full-circle in terms of looking at my hometown from the outside in and from a visitors’ perspective. This exterior view has, for me, sealed the deal that Miami still is one of the greatest cities in the world; rich in culture and Spanish/Latino, South American, and Caribbean diversity, to name a few. I left Miami in 1978 to enter the military, and over the last 36 years have not spent more than 30 days living there. They say that the grass often looks greener on the other side and for me my military and civilian travels have taken me to Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Bahamas; Alabama, Alaska, California, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington, DC, and countless abodes in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; since graduating from Miami Beach Senior High School.
It is now time for this chicken to come home to roost in one of the top tourist destinations in the world; which happens to also be my hometown. When I tell folks that I was born and raised in Miami, most typically respond with an air of intrigue and fascination as their eyes are all a glow about something they have experienced there or perhaps someone they know has experienced in Miami. When I was growing up it was called “The Magic City,” however, today it is known internationally as “It’s So Miami” according to Mr. William D. Talbert III – the current head of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. He has been a part of that organization for the past 24 years and has a wealth of experience in selling my city as an international destination. My late father retired from the Miami International Airport years ago as a Sky Cap, however, the memories of seeing him interacting with visiting tourists has left an indelible impression on this native son. That experience coupled with my memories of working at the then world famous Doral Hotel (now Miami Beach Spa & Resort), Miami Beach Convention, and a multi-million-dollar top-notch restaurant while in high school; is priceless.
On that note, this is what Mr. Talbert has to say about my hometown, and his personal and professional experiences working there…
Jay -- Were you born in Miami, if no, where?
Talbert -- I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Jay -- If not born in Miami, how long have you lived there?
Talbert -- I’ve been in Miami for 44 years.
Jay -- Are you bi-lingual, if not, do you have plans to learn Spanish?
Talbert -- I’m not bilingual but we have a multi-lingual team at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), including in-market representatives in more than 40 cities around the world selling and promoting Miami in their countries. My wife is fully bilingual in English and Spanish.
Jay -- Have you ever been a tourist in your town/Miami, If yes, where did you go and what did you do?
Talbert -- Everyone who lives in Miami has the privilege of being a tourist every day. Our destination is constantly evolving with new hotels, restaurants, attractions and events. I also love Miami’s many heritage neighborhoods. There’s always something to see or do in Miami and I enjoy it all. But my favorite place to be is poolside in my Coconut Grove backyard.
Jay -- What is your favorite tourist spot (Outside of Miami/Miami Beach) in the Continental United States, and why?
Talbert -- Washington, D.C. is a favorite spot of mine, not just for it’s tourism assets, but because I enjoy participating in efforts to strengthen and grow our industry with our associates in D.C. who liaison with government decision makers to keep the Travel and Tourism Industry top of mind.
Jay -- What is your favorite tourist spot outside of the Continental United States, and why?
Talbert -- I enjoy taking cruises worldwide.