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Local Government Manatee Tourist Development Council Meeting Results: Feb. 13, 2012


BRADENTON -- The Manatee County Tourist Development Council Meeting Results

1.  Approval of December 12, 2011 Meeting Minutes -- Approved, Unanimous

2.  Public Comments -- Rob Ferguson, Director of Sales, Holliday Inn Lakewood Ranch --

     Occupancy for Supreme Sports Facility is up 10 percent, and rowing was getting another contract.

3.  Election of TDC Vice-Chairman for 2012 --

     Ed Chiles made a motion to reelect David Tetlebalm Vice-Chair -- Approved, Unanimous

4.  Sports - Update -- Joe Pickett, from Florida Gulf Coast Community Development Corp. couldn't make it, as he had previous engagement with a South American client. Elliott Falclone reported that Pickett was forming a non-profit Sports Commission and is hiring an intern, one employee and is continuing to enhance the sports company's theme. Each year its budget is $110,000, to maintain salary and travel.

5.  IMG Academies -- There is another IMG champion on the rise to stardom. On Sunday, Jessica Korda won the Australian Open. A Bradenton native, Korda refined her golf skills at The Pendleton School at IMG. It was last year in Thailand, Korda made her LPGA debut. On another note, Chris Ciaccio, from IMG Academies, will give an update on up and coming activities in April.  

6.  Sarasota Bradenton Int'l Airport (SRQ) - Update -- Michael Walley and Jack Rynerson reported; after AirTran was acquired by Southwest Airlines, Southwest decided to cancel all flights to and from SRQ by August. Revenue generated by AirTran equates to 32 percent of SRQ's business. Hopes are that other airlines will pick up most of the flights. Chicago's non-stop will be a big loss, and SRQ is looking for Jet Blue and/or United to pick it up most of what Southwest drops. 


7.  Research - Update -- Walter J. Klages, President of Research Data Services Inc. said, "The numbers are good numbers," adding, there will not be a double dip, but maybe a few bumps. Visitors are up, from 461,600, to 492,300 (6.7%) which takes the amount spent by visitors to one half a billion dollars. He broke down some of the locations from which visitors traveled. They are: From Florida - 12.8 percent, from Europe - 12.4 percent and 6.3 percent is from the Southeast, United States. There has been a 5 percent increase in hotel occupancy and 1.3 to 1.5 million of Florida's visitors come from Brazil. He added that the airport traffic was down 11.9 percent.

Elliott Falclone suggested the Council host a U.K. tour locator and work aggressively on the sport travelers. He said " IMG is all over South America."


8.  Marketing - Update -- Debbie Meihls from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (BACVB) reviewed the latest edition of "Bon Appetite" highlighted the Lakewood Ranch and the Viking Cooking School. Look for area features in DreamScapes, Traditions and Sports Travel magazines. 

9.  PR/Social Media - Update -- Tara Donovan said, 126,830,953 impressions (website hits) on the county's website last year. There is a February article in Southern Living, The New York Post and The Boston Globe. Look for more in Southern Hospitality, Family Circle and Home and Away (published in the mid-west). She said, Go to SCVNGR.com/Bradenton, for a arts and history scavenger hunt.  

10.  New / Old Business - no comments

11. Public Comment -- Much of the public comment focused around the over-development of large 5 bedroom-plus residences, where owners are renting or leasing part of a property or house for profit. These houses can have 6 to 8 or even 12 bedrooms. They are being built in neighborhoods of single family homes, often on stilts to accommodate the extra parking needed. Residents are concerned the neighborhoods are being abused and cluttered with what they are calling atrocities.


Holmes Beach City Commissioner Jean Peelen spoke of how these monster houses are destroying the town's character and cannot be tolerated any longer, and Ed Chiles, a Tourist Development Council member agreed. Chiles said, "The CDC is doing too good of a job." He said the property owners need to do something and that it has to stop. 


Holmes Beach City Commissioner, David Zaccagnino, said, "We don't want to impact our product." (meaning tourist). He added, "It is all legal, the building permits, the code enforcement, and we just can't put a moratorium on those buildings." 


I spoke with Longboat Key Vice Mayor, Dave Brenner, outside the chambers, he said, "they have to take a comprehensive approach." He added that the Town of Longboat Key doesn't have that problem. This appears to be the hottest topic concerning Holmes Beach.    



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