Tourism Leaders Debate Brevard’s Marketing

By  //  July 24, 2013

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SPORTS BOLSTERS SUMMER TOURISM

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA  —  The Space Coast Office Of Tourism held its monthly Tourist Development Council meeting where it updated the community on its recent activity.

Rob Varley

Rob Varley

“Our numbers (resort tax collections) are flat and we are still facing challenges from the large amount of BP (British Petroleum) marketing money being spent to promote the Gulf (of Mexico) Coast,” said Director Rob Varley.

“Visit Florida’s projections are more positive and the good news from the Port with the new terminal to be built for two new ships are more positive indicators.”

Council member Jim Ridenour echoed the economic challenges.

“Sequestration is affecting us probably worse than most in the state,” said Ridenhour. “We are hunkering down for the long haul.”

FIRST SIX MONTHS DISASTROUS – FALL LOOKS BETTER

Council member Bob Baugher, who owns several Cocoa Beach based hotels, reported that his sales figures had been lacking.

Bob Baugher

Bob Baugher

“The first six months have been a disaster, but July has been better and it’s the first month that we have been up,” said Baugher.

“The fall bookings are somewhat more encouraging.”

Council Chairman Tom Williamson, who operates several Cocoa Beach hotels, reported similar results.

“The only glimmer of hope  in the short run is that the per-diem might be going up by $2 per night,” said Williamson.

Recent youth sports events hosted by Rusty Buchanan’s Space Coast Sports Promotions have generated more than $5 million in economic impact over the last two weeks for the county.

YOUTH SPORTS BOOSTS BREVARD

“The recent softball tournament in Titusville at Chain of Lakes was fantastic and all the hotels and restaurants were full,” said council member Laurilee Thompson from Titusville.

Laurilee Thompson

Laurilee Thompson

“We need more of that and we (Titusville) should be getting a greater share of these events in Brevard. We only get about 10 percent of the events and we generate more than 10 percent of the tax.”

Brevard Cultural Alliance ExecutiveDirector Neil Levine presented a report about the financial condition of the BCA.

“It would be nice to know the actual numbers of what the BCA receives, as I do not know what the $125,000 means,” said council member Tim Deratany in regard to how much money the TDC grants the BCA.

RELATED STORY: Buchanan Boosts Brevard’s Economy Through Sports

‘SPACE COAST’ VS. ‘COCOA BEACH’

Council member Walt Johnson stressed the importance of keeping the term ‘Space Coast’ in marketing campaigns but also mentioned that Cocoa Beach is a recognizable name that could also be used.

Walt Johnson

Walt Johnson

“We will be carefully studying this issue and no decision has been made yet,” said Varley.

Jim Ridenour

Jim Ridenour

Thompson said, “We should not just drop the Space Coast tag line as that will add to the perception that the Space program is diminished,”

Ridenour commented, “We should not knee-jerk this as we need the whole county to benefit not just one area,”

“We don’t want to send the wrong message to the world. We need to be very careful how we do this. Just to say Cocoa Beach would be a mistake.”

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