In a meeting this week, the Panama City Beach Tourist Development Council explored ideas regarding increasing the bed tax. Currently the TDC is being funded by a 2% tax that will generate over $3.5 million this year. The County Commissioners have the authority to increase the bed tax up to 6% as mandated by state law, but must have a separate authorizing vote for each penny per dollar increase. With the sharp increase of rental available units on the beach, it is estimated that we have to draw an additional 3000 visitors here each day during the in-season. I think we need to be clear how the current budget is being spent before we make any increases in bed tax. I think we need to be sure we’re not wasting money before we increase the bed tax which will in turn either increase room rental rates, or cut into rental management profits.
In a conversation I was having with the owner of PanamaCityBeach.com, it was brought up that “spring break is a necessary market segment.” As our industry is tourism, we have no choice than to try and have the best tourism season year after year in order to increase revenue and support our area. But actually, it goes further than that. Tourism is a necessity to keep our community alive. Currently, this is our main revenue generating industry and it feeds the mouths of a large percentage of families in Panama City Beach. We can’t afford to sacrifice any of that market share. The bottom line is, spring break and other types of vacation tourism is our bread and butter, and until we get some other substantial industry here, this is what we have to work with.
With that said, the TDC decided to work with MTV this year to create an “Spring Break Village” during a 10 day period and broadcast the event through its cable and online network. In my conversation with PanamaCityBeach.com owner, we discussed the “party crazy” look that MTV will bring to the area but that it needed to be controlled. He spoke of marketing through “brand conscience Apple and MySpace.” I was against college spring break, but he made me aware that college spring break is a necessity as is commands a large percentage of our yearly tourism revenue, but agreed that we need to move away from the “party crazy” spring break. He mentioned that by utilizing advertising mediums such as Apple and MySpace – whose demographic is specifically targeted – we could ultimately achieve a “higher-end” spring break visitor.?Print Story