Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Survey: Tampa Bay left good impression on Republican National Convention visitors

TAMPA — Visitors arrived for the Republican National Convention in August amid the threat of Hurricane Isaac, protesters and political theater.

No worries. They still left town with a measurably better impression of the region, according to a Tampa Bay Partnership survey released Tuesday.

In fact, positive perceptions of the eight-county bay area jumped nearly 18 percent on average based on pre- and post-RNC surveys of 1,200 delegates, attendees and journalists, more than four-fifths of whom were first-time visitors.

"A lot of people came with little or no impression of Tampa Bay. That can be a good thing, starting with a clean slate," said Rick Homans, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

The results showed organizers met their goal to "move the needle" during what was viewed as a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to enhance the bay area's image, said Stuart Rogel, the partnership's president and CEO. More then 50,000 visitors converged on downtown Tampa for the weeklong event, which put the area in the national spotlight for several days.

Market Enhancement Group of San Diego interviewed the RNC visitors by telephone three weeks before the convention and again two to three weeks after the convention.

The survey covered 27 attributes to measure changes in perceptions of the bay area as a desirable place to expand, locate a business, visit and live. Some of the biggest gains came in response to questions about whether they would recommend the region to a friend or business associate, air quality and cultural activities such as ballet, theater and art museums.

Measured on a 10-point scale, the view of the area as "a region I would like to live in" rose 2.32 points to 7.55 while perceptions that this is "a region I would like to work in" jumped 2.7 points to 6.61. The biggest gain came in response to whether the bay area is "a region I would recommend to a friend or business association," rising from 3.89 before the convention to 7.63 after.

"The areas where we made the biggest improvement are key measures which support our ongoing and business development efforts," Rogel said.

Among the three types of visitors surveyed, the biggest jump came among the media visitors, who had the lowest perceptions of the Tampa Bay area before the RNC.

Local economic development and tourism promotion officials expect the improvement in the area's image to pay off. Tampa Bay & Co. is working with "three really strong leads" to bring other conventions here as a result of the RNC, said Doug McClain, the organization's vice president of marketing. And the tourism agency is shifting money to bring more meeting planners to the area on introductory visits. "If we can get them here," McClain said, "half the battle is won."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

Comments
Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

DUNEDIN — The Pinellas County Commission pulled the final trigger Tuesday on dedicating $41.7 million in bed taxes for upgrades to the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium and spring training facilities, a pledge that amounts to covering more than half of the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida small business owners say their top concern is a lack of skilled workers, according to a recent survey by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Workforce quality has been a recurring issue for small businesses, according to previous surveys. In th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

If you’ve ever complained about other motorists on the road, you may have been justified. The Sunshine State ranked No. 8 on GasBuddy.com’s list of states with the most aggressive drivers."Our findings indicate that states with densely populated citi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

Amazon is taking the growing curb-side delivery trend a step further — now shoppers don’t even have to be inside their cars to get their items.The online retailer announced Tuesday it has begun delivering packages to newer cars with OnStar service in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-Yahoo paying $35M to settle SEC charges over 2014 hack

Ex-Yahoo paying $35M to settle SEC charges over 2014 hack

WASHINGTON — The company formerly known as Yahoo is paying a $35 million fine to resolve federal regulators’ charges that the online pioneer deceived investors by failing to disclose one of the biggest data breaches in internet history. The Securiti...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The ‘most interesting man in the world’ will be tending bar in Tampa on Friday

The ‘most interesting man in the world’ will be tending bar in Tampa on Friday

"Stay thirsty, my friends," the most interesting man in the world is coming to Tampa to tend bar on Friday. Jonathan Goldsmith, the face that launched a thousand memes, will be slinging cocktails at Tampa’s trendy Hall on Franklin, the food hall anno...
Updated: 7 hours ago
So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

NEW PORT RICHEY – The typical tourist in Pasco County this year most likely is a Floridian.But there are lots of Canadians here as well. Nearly 80 percent drove, rather than flew, to the region. Forty percent stayed in hotels, but more than a quarter...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

NEW PORT RICHEY – Hockey pucks could replace lacrosse balls as the required sports equipment for the holiday tourism season in Wesley Chapel.The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, founded by Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, is seek...
Updated: 8 hours ago
St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

ST. PETERSBURG — The pier public arts committee is expected to decide today which artist or artists will have their work showcased in the new 26-acre Pier District. The committee, which selected six finalists with the help of consultant Ann Wykell, w...
Updated: 10 hours ago