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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 18, 201612:00 PM EST

Boyer lays out 12-month plan for tourism

New agency contract and future attractions on her agenda
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

City Council President Lori Boyer, in her role as chair of the Duval County Tourist Development Council, laid out Wednesday a tourism development plan for the next year.

The proposal includes updating the tourist development plan, issuing a request for proposals for a convention and tourism marketing agency and identifying new tourism opportunities and possible attractions.

Boyer will introduce legislation this month to establish a framework for how TDC will appropriate its share of the local option tourist development tax — often referred to as the “bed tax.”

Of the 6 percent tax collected on hotel rooms, 2 percent is allocated for the Sports Complex Upkeep Fund, 2 percent to EverBank Field and 2 percent to the tourism council.

Seventy percent of the TDC’s share goes to Visit Jacksonville, which markets the city to convention planners and tourists.

Visit Jacksonville’s five-year contract expires Sept. 30, 2017. Boyer said an RFP will be issued early next year.

The bill to be introduced to council would authorize the TDC to spend 71 percent of its bed tax revenue for marketing and public relations efforts in Florida, nationally and internationally to attract tourism business.

The plan proposes 24 percent would be used to fund events that attract tourists. The remaining 5 percent would pay for tourist information centers and a convention and tourism bureau, either as a county agency or through contract, as is currently the case.

“This is your recommendations as the experts,” Boyer said the board. “Council is going to do what council is going to do.”

After the legislation is filed, it will be reviewed by standing council committees and public hearings will be scheduled.

In other business:

• Kyle Billy of the council auditor’s office reported in the first 10 months of the fiscal year — through July 31 — bed tax revenue was $5.96 million. He said that’s an increase of 10.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

• A grant of $40,000 was approved for Safety Zones for the Georgia-Florida football game weekend Oct. 26-29. City Sports and Entertainment Officer Dave Herrell said the funds would be used for fan hospitality centers around the stadium and in Downtown. The zones are part of the agreement between the city and the two colleges, which has been renewed through the 2021 game.

• Also approved was a $20,000 grant for Beaches Octoberfest Oct. 14-16 at Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach. The funds must be used to market the event to tourists outside a 50-mile radius of Jacksonville.

Managing partner Joshua Woolsey said the band Blues Traveler has been contracted for a concert on the last night of the event.

• A total of $36,300 was approved for grants to 11 groups and conventions contracted through Visit Jacksonville from November to April 2019, when the Florida State Association of Free Will Baptists will convene at the Jacksonville Marriott.

Visit Jacksonville President and CEO Paul Astleford said the group of 300 people will arrive in May for the first year of a three-year contract to meet in Jacksonville.

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