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TDC rejects wedding fest request

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

The Manatee County Tourist Development Council June 20 rejected a request from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce for $10,000 for the 2012 wedding festival.

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Elliott Falcione said the time had come to halt advertising the festival separately and instead include advertising in the BACVB’s overall marketing campaign.

Chamber executive assistant Deb Wing said funds were requested to highlight the festival’s change to early May, when more rooms would be available to attendees.

The February 2011 wedding fest was a success, but the idea to get “heads in beds” was only partially successful as many attendees were unable to book rooms in February.

“I wanted to bring you better heads-in-beds figures,” Wing said of the $10,000 request, adding that the funds would be well spent for that purpose.

County Commissioner and TDC Chair Carol Whitmore, however, disagreed.

“I know it’s hard, but we have to stretch our advertising dollars,” she said.

She said the BACVB should promote the festival with a link on its website and that a joint marketing plan should be developed.

Falcione said he would work with Wing on a plan, and noted that the BACVB budget included $45,000 for AMI Chamber co-op advertising.

He said he and Wing would return to the TDC in August with a plan for consideration.

Falcione then presented the BACVB’s proposed $4.9 million budget for fiscal 2012-13, which passed unanimously without comment.

Whitmore said the county commission must approve the budget before it becomes final.

“Nothing is etched in stone,” she said.

The budget includes $500,000 in unspecified tourism related projects and debt service, $500,000 as a transfer to the Manatee County Civic Center and $159,000 to the tax collector.

A statement from the BACVB noted that the budget funds come from the 5 percent “bed tax” on all accommodations rented in Manatee County for less than six months. Of the 5 cents per $1 collected, 3 cents goes to destination marketing, 1 cent is for beach renourishment and 1 cent for promoting and advertising tourism.

From the first 3 cent collection, the BACVB allocates 10.5 percent to Bradenton for debt service on McKechnie Field, as the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The BACVB proposed to spend $517,500 for online marketing with leading U.S. newspapers and tourism websites.

For television, radio and out-of-home marketing, the BACVB provided $319,000, while $53,565 would be spent advertising with the St. Petersburg Times.

Magazine advertising totaled $306,657, while community partnerships was $165,000. Included in community partnerships was $25,000 for the Island chamber to act as a tourist information center for the county, and $45,000 for co-op advertising with Island chamber members.

The international market was not forgotten, with $28,575 slated for travel shows and sales missions in Germany and London, $51,000 for Canadian marketing and $147,000 for advertising and marketing in Great Britain.

The BACVB’s draft production budget for 2012-13 was $878,500 and included $200,000 to an unidentified advertising agency, $100,000 to “Phase V – Fulfillment Services,” and the “Joe Pickett Sports Commission Fee/Events” was allocated $150,000 in the draft budget.

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