Sustainable & Authentic Florida Conference starts Wednesday in Cortez, Anna Maria Island

MANATEE -- Attracting visitors to Florida by emphasizing its natural beauty and charm is the focus of the Sustainable & Authentic Florida Conference, slated to kick off Wednesday on Anna Maria Island and in Cortez.

“Sustainable and authentic” living means preserving the gorgeous places in your own county, ensuring it is gracious and inviting, and then sharing it with tourists who come to enjoy what you have, according to organizers.

That, as opposed to building giant, artificial attractions that may degrade the quality of a community in order solely to attract visitors, they said.

Conference attendees will be exploring historic Cortez Village today. Listed as the conference's keynote speaker was Peggy Bulger, immediate past director of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Manatee County was chosen as the site of the first such conference partly because it sets a good example, officials have said previously.

“For the purposes of the conference, sustainability deals with no longer diminishing, lessening our irreplaceable resources,” said Herb Hiller, of DeLand, conference director and a longtime Florida travel writer and author.