BRADENTON -- Joe Pickett, who prides himself as "Sports Commissioner" of Manatee County, has been staying busy. With 112 sports events this year and 135 scheduled for next year, that's hard to do. He's filling up the calendar with promising events that will bring the kind of economic activity this area thrives on. Pickett said we are going to launch a new sports website in the next 30 days. He has 65 events on the calendar between now and Christmas.
Some of the scheduled events include: the Regional Figure Skating Championship, the USA Soccer Showcase, Freedom Softball and a "main street run" from downtown Bradenton to Longboat Key.
He introduced Florida Sports Foundation VP Steve Rodriguez who said that the 21 sports commissions they are associated with fund $107 million in grants through the sports license plate program, and spoke about sports being a $32 billion industry in the state of Florida.
Picket and Rodriguez both felt the area had a huge future in sports activities and the associated tourism that follows and even said that there is a need for more hotels along the interstate 75 corridor.
Walter J. Klages of Research Data spoke about how tourist occupancy is up 3.6%, up in market share and that Bradenton had a good summer season. He said that Europeans made up 10 percent of the area's visitors. The consulting firm gets most of its figures from face to face interviews and Klages said that people particulary like the area because it isn't "plastic."
Steve Berlin VP of Miles Media, who's online promotion "Your Summer Your Way" has been a big hit for the area's tourist industry, also gave an update. A redesigned Home Page "Welcome To Bradenton Area" offers 200 new pages of info and direction. It has 10 new micro sites: Weddings, Meetings, Sports, Industry (that offers marketing coop opportunities) and a German micro site written in German for the many German visitors Manatee gets. The site also has a new Manatee Convention mini site with a calendar, and he added a "film" mini site with a list of local films, news and updates. He also added a "Foodie/Culinary site with recipes from local chefs. Berlin finished his presentation describing the interactive map, with tags and business locations from Google. It all summed up as a very powerful tool for anyone who visits the area.
Tera Donovan and Gentry Baumline-Robinson were working on a project together; "Florida Gulf Islands" posting it on Facebook. Both worked on projects hosting writers and magazine promotion features in "Southern Living," the New York Times monthly, "Style Magazine," and AAA's "Home and Away."
Everything was cooking at the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, and they say it's because of the quality of life we present, and that "we are the real Florida." Kudos to all of those who make it happen.
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