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TDC helps Havana and Quincy tourism events

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By Alice Du Pont

The Gadsden County Tourist Development Council was in a generous mood during its March 19 regular meeting.
    Wayne Gregory asked for $5,000 but received $3,000 to help promote the Havana Merchant's Association's Havana Day and Billy Dean Concert. He estimated the entire event would cost approximately $26,000 this year about $6,000 more than estimated was spent last year on the event. TDC member Matt Thro, said to the best of his recollection the event drew 3,500 people during the day and 1,800 for the Dean Concert. He said about 1,000 tickets were sold for the concert at various prices between $50 for VIP seating and $13 for an open area with no seating.
    The practice of the TDC has been to place advertising for pay the media outlets.
     Gregory said the 2011 event was a success, although there were some security problems the Havana Police Department did a great job.
    TDC member Sherrie Taylor reminded Gregory that the idea of using tourist dollars was to fill hotel and bed and breakfast beds because that's where TDC funds come from. She said when there is an event is using TDC dollars there must be some way to measure the bed taxes.
    "I appreciate the ticket sales but lets just figure out a way to measure the bed tax dollars," she said.
     Peter Patel also recommended that anyone hosting an event such as a festival or concert suggest that employees of musicians, road crews and other stay at a Gadsden County hotel for the night.
    "The entertainment personnel, stage hands and others need to be directed to select local hotels. If they book so many rooms they will get a special rate that way we will assure that at least some will book rooms," said the TDC member who was re-appointed this year after two years off the council.
    The $3,000 will also include marketing funds as well as money for a survey that will identify people who will spend the night. The taxes on those overnight stays are what generate funds that are used to operate the TDC.
    In other business, the TDC asked Homer Hirt to come back in April after they have had the opportunity to learn more about Riverway South, a research organization that works with eight other counties to promote the rivers and the recreational uses they offer.
    The TDC, however, has shifted its focus to mainly include events that can be measured by those who stay overnight.
    Also, members:
    • approved a $500 expenditure to purchase an ad in the Gadsden County Times to promote Bike Florida.
    • approved $1,000 to Mary Kelly to purchase advertisement for the Quincy Music Theatre's production of Once Upon a Time on a Mattress.
    • approved $2,5000 to Randy Bush contingent on his delivery of a Website Search Engine.