TDC sets $2.4 million special events budget for 2019

Tourism officials on Tuesday approved a $2.4 million special events budget for Fiscal Year 2019 at a combined Tourist Development Council and Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting.

The total $2,455,000 special events budget came in $45,000 higher than 2018 because of requested increases from some event organizers.

“Most of the event right holders need to secure entertainment and begin their planning and budgets for the 2019 event season,” said Catie Feeney, Visit Panama City Beach public relations manager. “It is important for them to know what amount of funding will be available to them from the TDC.”

Funding for the budget comes from the tourist development tax, or bed tax, a five percent tax on transient rentals that can be used for beach maintenance, public safety and tourism promotion.

Officials budgeted $910,000 for festivals and events; $125,000 for equipment purchases for events; $1.378 million for the sponsorship of events held in the city; $12,000 to attend conferences related to events; and $30,000 for unanticipated expenses.

That means a $100,000 drop in festival and event funding compared to 2018, but an increase in event sponsorship. The TDC puts on some of its own events, such as Mardi Gras and Beach Home for the Holidays, and sponsors others. Oktoberfest, Gulf Coast Jam, the Food Truck Festival and the Beach’s Summer Concert Series are among sponsorships listed in the 2019 budget.

Board member Philip Griffitts said in addition to bringing in tourists and dollars, some of the events also help market Panama City Beach to audiences officials can’t reach.

“We see the success of some of these events,” he said. “We can’t buy that type of advertising.”

Events the TDC hosts or sponsors, such as Thunder Beach and the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, pull in thousands of people to Panama City Beach. Recently, SandJam — the newest event with which the TDC is involved — brought more than 20,000 people from 29 states and four countries to the Beach, according to event organizers.

“We’ve done a great job filling in the calendar with a diversity of events,” said Richard Sanders, Visit Panama City Beach’s vice president of sports marketing and special events.

The approved funding for the special events budget now will be sent to the Bay County Commission for approval, with the TDC’s total fiscal 2019 budget expected in October.

Source:  Panama City News Herald


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