NEW PORT RICHEY — County commissioners on Tuesday awarded $3,800 in tourist tax money to help promote Pasco as an international nudist destination.
The money was awarded to the Pasco Area Naturist Development Association and will be used to advertise Pasco's resorts in international nudist magazines. Advertisements will promote the months of July and August, when tourism lags in Florida and many Europeans are looking to take extended vacations. The initial target market would be attracting German families.
"This is the first time we've reached out to other countries," said Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who has worked with the nudist community for years to expand tourism. "If they come from another country, and they like what they see, they might remember us next year."
Added Eric Keaton, the county's tourism director: "There are so many events that come forward and they're one-day events or two-day events. This organization is promoting two months, July and August, that are our worst two revenue months out of the year."
There are several nudist resorts in Pasco, including Caliente Resort, Paradise Lakes Resort and Lake Como Resort.
The county collects tourist taxes through a surcharge on local hotel rooms. By law, the money must go toward efforts to draw more visitors to Pasco.
The funding for the nudist resorts' promotion was approved on a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Jack Mariano noted that the advertising campaign is not pegged to a specific venue or weekend. Most tourism grants are tied to specific events such as Chasco Fiesta that can show how many hotel stays they generated.
"I still don't see any definition to what they want to do," Mariano said. "I don't think it's an appropriate use of tourist development money."
The PANDA organization initially asked for $15,000. That figure was reduced based on a funding formula applied to all events that asked for tourism development money. Part of the reason it was reduced was because the event was so vague.