For millions of Americans, a trip to Florida represents a long-standing tradition — whether it's for spring break, a theme park, or a sporting event, visitors from around the world choose the Sunshine State to celebrate their special occasions. Pasco County celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week through Sunday.
Recent articles and editorials in the media have made much of Pasco County's economic challenges. Those searching for solutions to our economic woes should remember that a strong travel and tourism industry can help turn our economy around. More travel means more sales tax is pumped into our local businesses. The sales and tourist tax revenues contribute to a healthier Pasco.
The tourist tax is collected from overnight accommodations. Visitors to the county also eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and buy gas at our gas stations. They rent cars, buy groceries and visit local attractions. Did you know, according to the U.S. Travel Association, each U.S. household would pay $950 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry? Consider $950 buys about eight weeks of groceries for a family of four and will fill the average car with gasoline 31 times.
I am happy to report the county commission adopted the Tourist Development Plan for 2010-14. The plan's mission is to focus on creating a tourist experience based on promoting our natural attractions, cultural programs and creating new sports business, thereby boosting tourist development and the economy.
Pasco County will become a premier sports and travel destination in Florida by promoting sports tournaments, special events, outdoor recreation, eco-tourism and cultural activities. "Its Only Natural" has been our brand for years, but sports, art, festivals and culture are our nature as well.
The efforts of the Tourism Development Council and the Office of Tourism Development to promote Pasco County as a sports destination are paying off, with major tournaments such as the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions lacrosse tournament and the Score at the Shore soccer tournament. The tournaments selected Pasco County's parks and venues to host their events. The two events produce an estimated economic impact of $8.4 million. That reason is why the commission is promoting the construction of multipurpose sports facilities.
Pasco's position as an alternative to the theme parks continues with visitors seeking a unique experience at an affordable price. Whether they gaze at the bald eagles' nests from Anclote Gulf Park to the new Eagle Point Park, launch a kayak at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, play golf or tennis at Saddlebrook Resort, step out of a plane at Skydive City, stroll through our historic downtowns in Dade City, New Port Richey and Zephyrhills, shop at the Shops at Wiregrass or step back in time at the Pioneer Florida Museum, Pasco County has something special and unique for everyone.
Help us celebrate National Tourism Week by discovering the exciting adventures Pasco County has to offer. Invite your friends and family from other parts of the state or country to promote Pasco County. As our state partner Visit Florida says "Share a Little Sunshine." Be sure to support Pasco County tourism — by encouraging your friends, family and business associates to stay overnight in one of our hotels, motels or campgrounds.
For more information on Pasco County tourism, visit www.visitpasco.net
Pasco Commissioner Pat Mulieri, Ed.D is chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and the Tourist Development Council.