Pasco seeks tourism advocate
Pasco County is seeking to fill a vacancy on its Tourism Development Council, a county commission advisory board providing oversight of the local bed tax for tourism promotion.
The opening occurred when long-time member Jack Phethean, representing the Little Everglades Ranch, resigned his seat in April.
The nine-member panel includes Commission Chairman Kathryn Starkey, Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez, New Port Richey City Council member Chopper Davis and hoteliers and other industry representatives. It is scheduled to meet monthly.
“I’m hopeful we will have more of an interest and participation from our restaurateurs, as we look to fill the open seat on the council.” said Pasco Tourism Manager Ed Caum.
In May, the county reported tourist tax collections were up 13.5 percent over the same time a year ago, putting the county on pace to set a tourism record for a second consecutive year. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015, the county collected $968,263 in tourist taxes which finance event promotions, sponsorships and related activities. The county also has committed $8 million in tourist tax proceeds toward a multipurpose fieldhouse for indoor sports in Wesley Chapel. Proposals from private companies interested in partnering with the county on the project are due next month.
Though the TDC includes the commission chairman, its recommendations aren’t always followed by elected commissioners. For several years, the TDC has recommended increasing the tourist tax higher than the existing 2 percent surcharge on overnight accommodations, but commissioners have declined to do so.