At the June 20 county commission meeting, Curt Blair, executive director of the Tourist Development Council (TDC) Curt Blair brought commissioners up to speed on the state of tourism in the county and commissioners unanimously approved contracts for the upcoming fiscal year.
Blair told commissioners that collections for March totaled $ 84,538, $4,566 more than March of last year, an increase of 17 percent.
“Overall though we are running a little over 10 percent increase for the year,” he said.
Blair said he expected proceeds for the year to level out at about a 7 to 8 percent increase over 2016.
He said, after reviewing expenditures and collections for the last fiscal year prior to upcoming budget hearings, the TDC determined there had been an increase of $200,000 over projected TDC earnings. Blair said he will present an amended budget request at the budget hearings.
He said he will request $100,000 of the funding be used to pay down the loan on Lombardi Seafood Landing Park at the westward edge of Apalachicola. He said he will request an additional $25,000 be dedicated to beach clean-up in addition to the $50,000 already budgeted to clean-up annually.
Commissioners received copies of annual renewal contracts for in-county vendors working on behalf of TDC advertising. Blair said there was no change to the rate for core services.
Blair said the contracts have been reworked to reflect products not included in the core contract but there is no change to the fees budgeted from the last fiscal year.
Contracts were signed with Bay Media, Oyster Radio, Forgotten Coast TV and 2K Web Group.
Commissioners also voted unanimously to renew their contract with Blair’s firm Allyn of Franklin, with the contract not including promotional services in addition to core services. These include research for web site additions, compilation of a photo and video library, working with the Ambassador program that features a person in an oyster costume,, preparation of press materials and work with writers, and helping to conduct a Hospitality Training Program.
The board also approved sustaining grant contracts for seven recipients. Each contract is for $20,000 and the recipients include the Dixie Theater, Raney House Museum, Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and the Arts, the St. George Island Lighthouse, Crooked River Lighthouse, Camp Gordon Johnston and the Carrabelle History Museum.
Grants were also approved for the visitor centers for Apalachicola, Eastpoint and Carrabelle.
The contract for the St. George Island Visitor Center has been changed to provide for the center to be managed by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce instead of the Apalachicola Maritime Museum.
“We’re very excited to be able to run the visitor center on the island as well as the one in Apalachicola,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Solomon. “We’re probably going to repaint and generally upgrade the facility including new signage and new placement of signs. Once completed, it will have a great island feel.”