Former Executive Director and CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium David Yates has been named the 2020 Film Florida Legends Tourism Ambassador. The award, presented by entertainment production association Film Florida, honors those legends in the entertainment industry that are true ambassadors for Florida. David Yates is being honored for his time at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium as well as being largely responsible for introducing Winter the Dolphin to the world in Dolphin Tale then introducing the world to Hope the dolphin in Dolphin Tale 2.

“David’s leadership at CMA with their mission of Rescue, Rehab and Release has been an inspiration to many for years, and his ability to understand the storytelling capabilities of the film and television industry makes him a Legend,” Film Florida President Gail Morgan said. “Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 show the power of film-induced tourism and David understands that and has been an enormous leader showing how the tourism and film and television industries can work together for Florida.”

In the decade since Dolphin Tale was released, attendance at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has skyrocketed from 200,000 per year to a peak year of nearly 800,000 while the additional tourism in Pinellas County supports 11,000 permanent jobs in the area. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just completing an $80 million expansion made possible in large part due to the success of Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. Over the next decade, CMA is projected to have a $7.1 billion economic impact in Pinellas County including $437 million total state and local taxes generated and 4.7 million hotel room nights generated.

“Filmmaking has always been synonymous with Florida, and I was honored to bring the Dolphin Tale franchise to Florida with my partners at Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.,” David Yates said. “The State of Florida was also a key partner as both movies were awarded film incentives, allowing them to be greenlit and bring a multi-billion dollar ongoing impact to the State. I want to thank Film Florida for their steadfast support of our industry, which has a bright future.”

In 2006, Film Florida started honoring “Legends” in the entertainment industry. The award recognizes people that have achieved great success in the entertainment industry while also being great ambassadors for the state of Florida. Recent recipients of the award include Burt Reynolds, Sharon Gless, Emilio and Gloria Estefan and Vanilla Ice.

About Film Florida: Film Florida is a state-wide not-for-profit entertainment production trade association that serves a leadership role in Florida’s film, TV, production and digital media/tech industry by representing all aspects of the business including film commissions, industry, labor, associations and education. The growing membership driven organization provides a network, a platform, and the benefits of playing an active part in solidifying Florida’s position as a major entertainment production destination, positive economic development driver and tourism generator. For more information about Film Florida visit

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Gail Morgan, President,, 850-240-6376
John Lux, Executive Director,, 407-494-6195