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Guest column | Pat Mulieri

Pasco's economic recovery starts with tourism

Recent articles and opinion pieces in the media have made much of Florida and Pasco County's economic challenges. Part of the solution must include a robust travel and tourism industry.

For millions of Americans, a trip to Florida represents a long-standing tradition — whether it is for spring break, a honeymoon, or major sporting event, visitors from around the world choose the Sunshine State to celebrate their special occasions.

Pasco County will celebrate and honor National Travel and Tourism Week through May 17, and this year it's more important than ever.

Due to a weak economy, the travel industry has come under attack. Families have canceled vacations, and the legitimacy of traveling for meetings and events is persuading companies to cancel or avoid booking business meetings. An astonishing 247,000 travel-generated jobs are expected to be lost this year.

Every time a traveler avoids a trip, hard-working people in our community pay the price through cut hours, or worse — lost jobs.

Those searching for solutions to our economic woes should remember that a robust travel and tourism industry can help turn our economy around. More travel means more jobs and needed revenues for a healthier Pasco.

As chairman of the Tourist Development Council, I am happy to report we collected a record $841,489 in tourist tax dollars in 2008. Like many other destinations, our visitor numbers have dropped since the beginning of the year, but we are still open for business!

The tourist tax is collected from overnight accommodations, but visitors to the county also eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and buy gas at our gas stations. They rent cars, pay tolls, buy groceries and visit local attractions.

The efforts of the Tourist Development Council and the Office of Tourism to promote Pasco County as a sports destination are paying off, with major tournaments such as lacrosse and soccer choosing this area to host their events.

Pasco's position as an alternative to the theme parks continues with visitors seeking a unique experience at an affordable price. Whether they ride a kayak at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, relax by the pool at Saddlebrook Resort, step out of a plane at Skydive City, stroll through our historic downtowns in Dade City, New Port Richey and Zephyr­hills or step back in time at the Pioneer Florida Museum, Pasco County has something special for everyone.

Help us celebrate National Tourism Week by discovering the exciting adventures Pasco County has to offer. I always say "Push Pasco." So invite your friends and family from other parts of the state or country to promote Pasco County as a sport and travel destination. And when you do, be sure to support Pasco County tourism — by encouraging them to stay overnight in one of our hotels, motels or campgrounds!

For more information, visit www.visitpasco.net or call 1-800-842-2873.

Commissioner Pat Mulieri, Ed.D is chairman of the Tourist Development Council.

Pasco's economic recovery starts with tourism 05/11/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 11, 2009 6:50pm]
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