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Pinellas tourism officials move to contribute up to $600,000 for RNC party

Pinellas County tourism officials want to pitch in up to $600,000 to welcome Republican National Convention delegates and the media with a party at Tropicana Field in August.

The unanimous decision made Wednesday by the Tourist Development Council, the oversight board for the Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, came in response to a request from the Tampa Bay Host Committee. The mission of the nonprofit, nonpartisan committee is to promote the area.

The money will come from bed tax reserves and must be approved by the Pinellas County Commission.

Commissioner Ken Welch says he's "generally supportive" of the idea.

"But the amount is a bit more than I expected,'' he said. "At the end of the day, this is an economic issue and it's about promoting the destination, which is St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa."

Pinellas County's contribution will help to produce the convention kickoff party at Tropicana. It will feature themed sections promoting Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, said David Downing, deputy director of Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. Up to 15,000 journalists and 5,600 delegates are expected to attend the Aug. 26 event, which will showcase local attractions, food and entertainment.

Last week the Hillsborough County Commission voted to spend $1 million in tourist development tax dollars to promote the area during the convention. The commission allocated $400,000 of that sum to the St. Petersburg party.

"We've worked very closely with our counterparts in Tampa to bring the convention here,'' Downing said. "We're looking forward to showing off the Tampa Bay area.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

Donations coming in

The host committee looks to all kinds of donors to raise $55 million for the convention. Story, 6B

Pinellas tourism officials move to contribute up to $600,000 for RNC party 04/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:21pm]
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