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Robert Trigaux

Aiming high: Tourism leaders pitching for Super Bowl, World Cup soccer, Republican convention




Wake up and good morning. Tourism industry leaders of Tampa and Hillsborough County vented some frustration this week over perceptions that their industry is "old economy" and a drag on Florida's ambitions to raise the employment bar by focusing more attention on recruiting higher-wage industries. Here's a column I wrote touching on that point.

(Photo: Maryann Ferenc (right, with glasses), chair of Tampa Bay & Co. and owner of Tampa's Mise En Place restaurant, and Dianne Jacob, Tampa Bay & Co. marketing chief, discuss tourism benefits. Photo by Atoyia Deans of the St. Petersburg Times.)

Paulcatoeceotampabayandco.A couple of other interesting details emerged from the conversation with Ferenc, Jacob and Paul Catoe (right), CEO of Tampa Bay & Co. -- the former Tampa Conventions & Vistors Bureau. Catoe said there are three big events that the bay area is gunning for and the possibility of a hat trick -- all three coming here -- is heady stuff. The three are another Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup soccer matches and an upcoming Republican National Convention. We'll be hearing updates on where we stand on some of these competitive bids starting next month.

The other bit of news volunteered by Catoe is that Tampa Bay & Co. recently hired Holland & Knight senior policy adviser and former Florida governor, Bob Martinez, as its Tallahassee lobbyist. Martinez's main job, Catoe says, is to be his group's eyes and ears on matters related to the state tourism industry. The point of hiring Martinez, though, is to improve the local tourism group's political intelligence and put it more on par with other economic development groups that are spending more and more time and money trying to influence state lawmakers and regulators.

One final anecdote. Ferenc emphasized the value to the local economy of bringing events like Super Bowls. She says there are days she gets up and gives thanks to the last Super Bowl in town, which gave a big boost to area restaurants, including Mise En Place, and helped carry them through a tough summer and recession.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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