February 20, 2014 TDC Recap

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dear Industry Partner:

Below you'll find just a few highlights from Wednesday'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.

December Makes It Official: Pinellas Becomes High-Impact Tourism County
A continued trend of record-setting Tourist Development Tax capped a best-ever calendar year and sent Pinellas County past the $30-million mark, making the news of becoming a high-impact tourism county official. A year-over-year increase of 17.4% for December put the month over $2 million for the first time, as well. The large year-over-year increase puts FY13-14 collections more than 13% ahead of last year's record-setting numbers already a quarter into it, totaling more than $6 million. All signs for January point to continued increases as the high tourism season begins in February and continues through March and April.

New York, Chicago and Toronto Focus of Winter Push: OJ Campaign Thrives
The first-ever national partnership with Florida's Natural Orange Juice has seen record consumer participation with more than 300,000 people visiting FloridasNaturalBeaches.com and more than 150,000 entering to win a week-long getaway in the first month. Running simultaneously, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater's recently launched iNeedSun.com campaign was covered in The New York Timesand has seen more than 26,000 entries, so far. In all, the campaign will garner more than 570 million impressions across three markets---New York, Chicago and Toronto. The two campaigns end and May 31 and Apil 15 respectively.

Website Traffic Up 76% in December; YouTube Views Hit 1 Million
VisitStPeteClearwater.com saw massive increases in December traffic with a 76% increase year-over-year, which contributed to another record-setting year of traffic. In all, more than 1.8 million people visited the site in 2013, up 24 % from the previous year. VSPC’s aggressive social media efforts are paying off, too, as its YouTube account recently passed the 1-million view mark.

Latin American Visitation Up 30%, Efforts Continue
VSPC’s first new department in two decades, Director of Latin America---Ana Fernandez---has been busy showcasing St. Pete/Clearwater to the diverse, 500-million-person market. In addition to building relationships with corporate partners, travel agents (including home-based ones) and tour operators, Fernandez is also organizing a series of trade and consumer FAMs starting this month. This effort coincides with increases in Latin America visitation, which increased by 30% in December, with 96,000 total.

Again, these are just a few highlights of the meeting. Please note that our next regular TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. on March 19. Meanwhile, all of our regular monthly reports are on file and posted online at PinellasCVB.com.