February 19, 2016 TDC Recap

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dear Industry Partners:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from Wednesday's Tourist Development Council meeting. Per usual, you can view the TDC agenda and all of VSPC's monthly department reports online.
Record December Caps First-Ever $40 Million Year Of Bed Tax Collections
For the first time ever, Pinellas County's calendar year tourist development tax collections crossed the $40 million mark thanks to another month with double-digit gains---this time December, which jumped more than 15%. In total, 10 of the 12 months in CY2015 saw double-digit increases, leading to an increase of more than 12% year-over-year for a total of $40,321,911.10. Just two years ago, Pinellas County crossed the $30 million threshold for the first time ever, becoming one of the state's five high-impact tourism counties. This growth has resulted in a record average daily rate (ADR) of $136 and a 76% occupancy rate. In the past five years, bed tax collections in Pinellas County have increased by 57.5%, ADR has grown by 31.9% and occupancy jumped by 12.9%---all of this without the additional 1% bed tax that started being collected on Jan. 1, 2016.

Winter Campaign In Boston, Chicago, London and New York City Comes Alive
With winter in full swing in the area's largest feeder markets, VSPC's all-new winter campaign has come alive. The domestic efforts---which include branded subway trains, urban street panels, wrapped buses and digital targeting---total more than 560 million impressions and feature an amped up look with vibrant swirls of color. In addition, VSPC's first-of-its-kind partnership with Uber  in Chicago has seen record engagement as it enters the final week of the campaign. In the United Kingdom, VSPC's second-ever national campaign features TV spots, taxi toppers and digital efforts, along with full motion ads that will play on some of the country's largest outdoor screens---including this massive installation at London's Westfield Mall.

VSPC Marketing, PR Honored At National Awards Show In NYC
On the heels of winning an unprecedented two Platinum Adrian Awards in 2015, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater took home five more awards at this week's Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International event in New York City. The awards---2 gold, 2 silver and a bronze---were presented for a wide range of initiatives, including the Winter Blows guerrilla marketing campaign, the first-ever Grouper Week  campaign and partnership with Florida's Natural. The Adrian Awards are the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competition worldwide.

Preliminary Medical Tourism And Meetings Study Highlights Opportunity
Initial results from a medical tourism and meetings study being conducted on behalf of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council with support from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater are showing potential opportunity for Tampa Bay. The study, which is being done by Global Healthcare Resolutions and includes a complete SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, is measuring the region's ability to become a desirable destination in the medical tourism and meetings realm. The early findings suggest with strong partnerships and proper marketing, Tampa Bay could separate itself from others in this field---in large part because only one other destination (Rochester, Minnesota, with the MAYO Clinic) has established itself in this market. View the preliminary results here.
Again, these are just a few highlights. Feel free to watch the meeting in its entirety here.

The next TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16, and will be dedicated to a discussion of guidelines for capital funding applications in 2016.


David Downing
Executive Director