A Letter from the CEO

 

Dear Stakeholders and Tourism Partners,

It’s Budget Time and Visit Pensacola needs your help. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has set back our tourism industry…erasing the gains we have accomplished since Visit Pensacola was established.

Visit Pensacola, Pensacola Sports and ACE, jointly known as the Unified Budget, have been proactively reducing expenses.  For Visit Pensacola, that means less marketing dollars, and pausing major programs like event grants.  The outlook for the next fiscal year which starts in October estimates Tourism Development Tax (TDT) collections at under $10 Million. That’s 28% lower than what was originally budgeted for the current fiscal year.

In addition to other budget cuts, we are sad to share that 40% of the staff have been laid off.  Destination Sales Manager Lori Coppels, Administrative Assistant Barbara Williams, Digital and Creative Associate Logan Whyner and Visitor Information Center Supervisors Joyce Black and Paul Cornell will no longer serve on the Visit Pensacola Team. Additionally, Larry Orvis, Facilities Manager, will be transitioning to part-time hours as a Lead Ambassador. 

Since Visit Pensacola was formed, the marketing provided through the Unified Budget has been a top priority with 65% or more of total TDT collections invested by Escambia County in the Unified Budget each year.

Our major funding source collected by hotels and vacation rentals, the TDT, is down 23% year to date. With less TDT being generated due to the pandemic, now more than ever, this is the time to invest in marketing to bring more visitor spending into Escambia County.

With every dollar spent on tourism marketing for Escambia County, $106 comes back in visitor spending. In 2019 alone, visitors spent over $930 million in Escambia County. Of that, 66% of visitor spending is outside of lodging and spent in businesses including retail shops, restaurants, gas stations and more.

The message is simple. 

Keep tourism advertising and promotion a high priority and continue to invest 65% of the TDT receipts into the Unified Budget.  We invite you to read and share the 2019 Tourism Works for Pensacola numbers.

We need everyone with a stake in tourism and the continued marketing of our destination to reach out to your County Board of Commissioner or County Administrator Janice Gilley by phone or email to let them know how important the marketing of the Pensacola Experience is to their business and employees.

Sincerely,

Darien Schaefer, President & CEO