Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pinellas County Examines Special Event Handouts

This week, the Pinellas County Tourism Development Council (TDC) took a step in the right direction by putting a little more scrutiny on claims of "beds-in-heads" for the events that get tourist tax dollars each year.  The Trib's Josh Boatwright reports:
The tourism council on Wednesday approved $982,500 for eight events, which reported drawing more than 440,000 people and giving their host cities exposure on national television.

Applications for a science fair and a music festival in St. Petersburg were rejected because both fell below the baselines of 15,000 attendees or 5,000 hotel room nights.

The county's biggest so-called elite event, the Honda Grand Prix, was approved for $250,000 after reporting attendance of 130,000 people and more than 27,000 hotel nights during the IndyCar race, held in March.

The new requirement helps county officials better evaluate the economic benefit of sponsoring these events, St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Director D.T. Minich said.

"I think it was more of just a verification that the numbers were there - that they had the attendance or the room nights that qualified them," Minich said.
But sadly, the system is still steeped in the honor system:
Applicants were required to explain how they tabulated attendance, but it's still difficult to independently verify the numbers because they are self-reported, Minich said.
Regardless, the more scrutiny, the better.  Especially after this blog showed how the short-lived St. Pete Rock n' Roll Half Marathon failed to deliver on its tourism promises, but still got to keep the tax dollars.

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