September 9, 2009 TDC Meeting Recap

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dear Industry Partner:

International tourism took center stage at Wednesday's TDC meeting, which featured presentations from both Marion Wolf, VSPC's Central European Director, and Venessa Alexander, VSPC's UK Director. Marion and Venessa flew in from their respective destinations to update the TDC on their activities to date, to give a preview of other initiatives on the horizon and to conduct personal site visits to keep abreast of the many exciting developments in the St. Pete/Clearwater area.

Here's a few of the highlights from their reports, as well as other items of interest:

Central European coop marketing initiatives have been launched with 13 major German, Swiss and Dutch tour operators, already reaching more than 25 million in-market consumers. Highlights of these outreaches include:

  • St. Pete/Clearwater being featured on the cover of DERTOUR Winter Catalog (circulation 500K) for two years in a row
  • St. Pete/Clearwater being featured on the cover of Neckerman Reisen's 2009-10 catalog (circulation 400,000)
  • DERTOUR promotion to 30 German cities
  • FTI radio, billboard and web promotional activities (15.5 million impressions)
  • Neckerman Reisen window displays and sales supplement to 12,500 agencies
  • Meir's Weltreisen direct mail and extensive consumer magazine campaign

The UK market was equally robust, launching coop marketing initiatives with 10 major UK and Irish tour operators and reaching nearly 19 million consumers. Highlights include:

  • Virgin Holidays magazine advertorial, website ads and Daily Mail newspaper ads reaching 2.2 million consumers
  • Joint advertising with Virgin Holidays on Tripadvisor and Travel Trade Gazette and placement in several major promotional mailings (300,000 total)
  • Expedia promotion is currently running with an expected total of 2,612,500 impressions and an electronic newsletter will be sent to a database of 800,000
  • Multi-faceted consumer promotions with retail and restaurant outlets throughout the UK reached over 7 million consumers

After their TDC presentations, they met with more than 50 area hoteliers at VSPC's Leisure Travel Forum at the Marriott Suites Sand Key, where they provided an in-depth look at VSPC's international efforts and answered questions from attendees.

As we reported last month, VSPC Executive Director DT Minich was appointed chair of Visit Florida's International Marketing Task Force, which held its first meeting after Governor's Conference in Miami last month. Representatives from every major CVB in the state voiced support, and officials from Visit Florida were able to provide $200,000 for cooperative advertising in Europe this year. Visit Florida CEO Chris Thompson said that he has received interest from representatives from some of Florida's most popular theme parks as well. A follow up phone conference will take place next week, followed by a second in-person meeting during VF's upcoming Board of Directors Meeting in Daytona Beach on September 23-24.

News of this came in too late to include in the meeting, but on Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed S. 1023, the "Travel Promotion Act," with strong bipartisan support, 79 to 19. The legislation creates a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and better explain U.S. security policies. Once passed by the House of Representatives and enacted into law, the program is estimated to create 40,000 U.S. jobs, drive $4 billion in new consumer spending and reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million according to the Congressional Budget Office. Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,500 per person, per trip in the United States.

The "Travel Promotion Act," introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV) and co-sponsored by 51 Senators, is modeled after successful state-level programs and is funded through a matching program featuring up to $100 million in private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers who do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. The fee is collected once every two years in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization. No money is provided by U.S. taxpayers.

Nearly identical legislation passed the House of Representatives in the last session, but did not receive a Senate vote before adjournment. A new House companion bill, H.R. 2935, is co-sponsored by 68 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

These are just a few of the highlights from this month's Tourism Development Council meeting. As usual, all of the individual department reports are available for viewing at download at, and the entire meeting can be viewed at your leisure on

This month's meeting was preceded by an informal presentation honoring TDC member Russ Kimball, who last month joined a select list of tourism luminaries---including Walt Disney and Henry Flagler---in the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. We can't think of anyone who deserves this award more than he does.
See you next month.


David Downing
Assistant Director
Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater