March 17, 2016 TDC Recap

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dear Industry Partners:
Below you'll find just a few highlights from Wednesday's Tourist Development Council meeting. Although the entirety of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion of processand guidelines for the capital funding process, we have recapped highlights from the reports on file for your convenience as well. Per usual, you can view the TDC agenda and all of VSPC's monthly department reports online.

TDC Discusses Capital Funding, Tweaks Guideline Language
Wednesday's meeting was solely dedicated to a wide ranging discussion of the upcoming capital funding process. TDC members made a variety of recommendations to clarify the existing guideline language in anticipation of the upcoming application process. These latest tweaks will be drafted by the county attorney and presented to the Board of the County Commissioners for consideration at an upcoming meeting, after which the TDC will issue complete guidelines as well as a timetable for capital funding application submissions and review. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater will send out an industry update when this information is available and a timeline has been established.

Robust First Quarter Puts Bed Tax 19% Ahead of FY15
The new era of a 6% Pinellas County Tourist Development Tax is in the books. January TDT collections topped $3.8 million, or a 28.6% year over year increase thanks to the additional $647,178 from the extra 1% Pinellas County began levying in January. Backing out that additional cent, the bed tax increased by 7.2% year over year, marking the 29th straight month of TDT growth. Four months into FY16, TDT collections are 18.9% ahead of last year's record setting pace.

ITB Berlin: Strong Dollar, Election Jitters On Radar; Lufthansa Soars
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater staff, along with Board of County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Justice, attended the annual ITB in Berlin last week. The world's largest travel show, ITB, brings more than 10,000 exhibitors together, providing a forum for meetings with hundreds of qualified buyers and media throughout the week. While interest in St. Pete/Clearwater remains high in the Central European market, several tour operators reported a shortened booking window and concerns about demand due to the dollar's continued strength against the Euro, which is up slightly ($1.12) from its 12 year low this time last year. Tour operators also cited uncertainty regarding the U.S. presidential election as another factor they believe will affect demand moving forward. On the positive side, Lufthansa officials reported that, 6 months into the inaugural service from Frankfurt to Tampa, the flight is one of the most successful new service launches the company has ever had.

Grand Prix, PGA Tour Leveraged To Host International VIP Group
VSPC took full advantage of two of the area's biggest Elite Events last weekendFirestone Grand Prix and the Valspar Championship simultaneously hosting more than 100 leisure travel, Latin America, sports, meetings, media and other industry VIPs at signature events at both ends of the county. The group included a significant contingency of Latin America tour operators and media, including representatives from industry giants Mercado & Eventos, Trend Tour Operator and Banco General, who were on hand to witness Columbian Juan Pablo Montoya win the Grand Prix for the second year in a row.

Again, these are just a few highlights.
The next TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20, and I look forward to seeing you there.
David Downing
Executive Director