Pinellas County keen to watch the impact of tourism fund used on big events

Published on : Saturday, August 19, 2017

indexThere are other attractions to keep tourists hooked in Pinellas County other than just beaches. The government of this county side by side expends millions to assist in sponsoring big-name events to attract more visitors.

However, presently, the Pinellas County Commission is more interested to find out exactly the number of visitors and how massive the economic impact the county is getting in return for that investment.

On Tuesday, approximately $1.5 million has been approved by the commission in tourist tax revenues to support the impending 12 events that they expect to attract even more visitors in the year 2018.

Some of the biggest winners include annual events such as the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ($250,000), followed by the Valspar PGA Championship ($250,000), the Outback Bowl & Clearwater Beach Day ($150,000); and the St. Petersburg Bowl ($135,000).

Nevertheless, commissioners conveyed a strict message to all the organizers of the event: Turn over your attendance figures and economic impact data if you want the cash.

“How can we justify these numbers when we don’t have data to back it up,” County Commissioner Karen Seel said. “I have a problem with it, big time … This just disturbs me.”

Commission chair Janet Long replied: “We are the final decision makers.”

Karen Seel raised alarm after a St. Petersburg Bowl officially admitted to the Tourist Development Council that he would not be in a position to give the event’s financial data because it’s owned by ESPN Events, a private corporation.

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