April 18, 2014 TDC Recap

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Industry Partner:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from this week's Tourist Development Council meeting. As usual, we have posted the TDC agenda online on our industry website along with all of the individual monthly departmental reports.

Annual Growth Across All Feeder Markets Leads to Record 2013 Visitation
With complete visitation data for calendar year 2013 compiled, St. Pete/Clearwater saw a 5% growth in hotel room nights overall, totaling more than 5.5 million overnight visitors. That increase is the result of growth in every one of the area's feeder markets---both domestic and international---including a 31% increase in Latin American visitors, and steady European efforts that pushed the total from that market past 1 million visitors for the first time ever. Domestically, Florida and the Southeast saw the largest percentage gains, growing 5.5% and 3.5% respectively. All of this resulted in the largest economic impact in the area's history, totaling more than $8.2 billion.

Tax Collections Outpacing Record- Setting Numbers
Record-setting Tourist Development Tax numbers jumped again in February with an 11% year-over-year increase, which contributed to the year-to-date collections being more than 11.5% ahead of last year. The tax collections were a result of an 8.6% increase in visitors year-over-year. Now five months into FY13-14, every month has seen at least an 8.6% increase in bed tax. All of that comes before March and April, which are the destination's busiest months.
St. Pete/Clearwater Takes IPW 2014 By Storm In The Windy City
U.S. Travel's IPW (formerly International Pow Wow), which took place last week in Chicago, is America's premier international travel showcase, and the St. Pete/Clearwater area was front and center during the four-day event. Starting with Saturday evening's Brazilian Reception, which was co-hosted with Visit Tampa Bay, continuing to Monday's sponsorship of the Chariman's Circle Dinner, and culminating with Tuesday evening's buyer and media reception co-sponsored with The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, the St. Pete/Clearwater area was highly visible on the country's largest international tourism stage. VSPC also brought along the State of Florida's official Culinary Ambassador, Chef Justin Timineri, to promote Gulf seafood at the event and on appearances on local Chicago morning talk shows. Representatives from 11 industry partners joined Team VSPC's massive back-lit trade-show booth, where VSPC staff conducted more than 150 meetings with buyers and media over the three-day show.

VSPC's Sports Commissioner to Lead National Board
VSPC is proud to announce that St. Pete/Clearwater Area Sports Commissioner Kevin Smith was named Board Chair of the National Association of Sports Commissions. Smith was appointed last week at the NASC board meeting in Oklahoma City. Smith, who joined the VSPC Sports Commission in 1999, has been department director since 2006 and has been a member of NASC since 2000.
Elite Event Applications Deadline May 9
The TDC is accepting applications for funding of major area events via the Elite Event funding program. This program is designed to maximize the economic benefit of Pinellas County's tourism marketing associated with these events and to provide fair and equitable funding opportunities for all qualified applicants. To see whether your event qualifies for funding, please see the Elite Event Funding Guidelines on PinellasCVB.com. There you can also find Elite Event Applications , which must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, May 9.

I would like to welcome the TDC's newest board member, Eric Waltz, who is the General Manager at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach.
If you haven't seen it already, please check out our all-new PinellasCVB.com , which has been completely redesigned using responsive-design technology that allows it to be viewed easily across all devices (desktop, tablet, phone, etc.). There you can find our regular monthly reports, useful statistics and information on the many activities and programs of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, including our May 1 Tourism Week Kick-Off event. We are continuously refining the site, so we welcome any input you might have for us regarding usability, design, etc.

Please note that our next regular TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. on May 21.


David Downing
Deputy Director
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater