John Hitt, Arnold Palmer, Gary Sain, and Steven Jayson To Be Enshrined Nov. 4

The Grand Tour Foundation, celebrating tourism leadership while providing college scholarships to deserving hospitality students, has announced the 2016 Dick Pope Legacy Award winners.

John Hitt, president of University of Central Florida, Arnold Palmer, the undisputed “King” of Professional Golf, the late Gary Sain, former president of Visit Orlando, and corporate executive chef Steve Jayson, Universal Orlando, were chosen unanimously by the selection committee.

The inductees will be recognized on November 4 in the Citrus Ballroom of the Wyndham Resort at 8001 International Drive Orlando, Florida at a noon luncheon following an 11 a.m. VIP networking reception. Their bronze likenesses will be immortalized on the new Dick Pope Hall of Fame wall being located within the newly renovated west wing of the Orange County Convention Center.

“The Dick Pope Awards luncheon not only recognizes the leadership and strength in sustaining Florida’s tourism,” said Dr. Mary Jo Ross, CSEP, CPEC, executive producer of the event, “but this year the stage is set to increase the awareness of hospitality education in Florida by launching Foodstock Orlando and creating a larger platform of appreciation for these honorees”.

The mission of the Grand Tour Gala Foundation is to raise and distribute funds to student scholarship foundations, and to non-profit organizations purposed to provide educational programs to students interested in a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. Foodstock Orlando, a multi-day destination festival is in production to increase the support necessary for the high demand of scholarships and grants necessary within Florida’s hospitality education mecca.

Attendees and corporate sponsors of the luncheon can register at For more information on Foodstock Orlando go to

Click here to learn about previous inductees.

Hitt has been President of the University of Central Florida since 1992. When he took over at UCF, the school was the fifth largest in Florida and 115th in the nation. Since then, UCF has grown to more than 60,000 students – triple the enrollment over the time of his appointment making UCF now ranked number two in the nation. Dr. Hitt has lead UCF in becoming a major metropolitan university of global impact and has launched more than $1 billion in new construction including the new expansion of its Downtown Orlando campus.

Jayson has been an integral part of the success of Universal Parks & Resorts since he began in 1989 as part of its inaugural opening team. As vice president, corporate executive chef for the Universal Parks and Resorts, Chef Jayson has delivered an incredible level of culinary expertise and service to Universal’s guests over the years in Orlando and around the world. He has also been recognized by his peers for his contributions to his profession. And has received more than 150 culinary awards from various organizations and was named National Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation in 2000.

Palmer has been known as one of the best sportsmen and businessmen in the world for nearly half a century. As a professional golfer, he has won 92 national and international championships, 62 of them on the PGA Tour, and seven majors led by four green jackets from The Masters. Palmer has been equally successful in the corporate world as President of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Palmer has had a lasting impact on the Central Florida community by lending his name and helping to raise funds for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

Sain is a posthumous inductee into the Dick Pope Legacy Award Hall of Fame. Sain, who was President and CEO of Visit Orlando for nearly six years. During his tenure as chief of Visit Orlando, the city recorded a record 51.5 million visitors in 2010, becoming the first U.S. destination to break the 50-million visitor milestone. Sain served as one of the community’s brand ambassadors, working tirelessly on behalf of the city and its tourism industry. He had previously held executive positions with MMGY Global, Premier Cruise Line, Hyatt Hotels, Ritz-Carlton and other companies.

About Dick Pope:

Richard Downing Pope, Sr. died in 1988 but is legacy lives on. Better known as Dick Pope, he was the founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. He is also known as “Mr. Florida”. Pope played a momentous role in the development of tourism in the state of Florida and the growth of theme parks as tourist destinations.