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Palm Coast Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 8 years ago

Chamber to invest $900,000 in tourism development

by: Jonathan Simmons Senior Editor

Flagler County made more than $1.8 million in bed taxes in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce plans to allocate $900,000 of that revenue back into tourism department.

Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Development Georgia Turner spoke Thursday at a presentation before the Flagler County Hospitality Alliance and Arts Alliance, laying out the details of the chambers’ plan to attract visitors.

The $1.8 million the county brought in during the last fiscal year was a 16% increase from the 2011-12 fiscal year, and Turner said the chamber has studied the county’s visitors to see where they come from, who they are and how long they stay.

The chamber has recorded about 8,000 interviews and used programs like Google Analytics to track their Internet behavior.

The No. 1 reason people visit, Turner said, is to vacation at the beach.

But one reason they pick Flagler County above other coastal locations, she added, is because it’s not cluttered by tourist traps. It’s not dirty. It’s not unfriendly. It doesn’t have high-rise condominiums or cars on the beach.

Those kinds of reasons brought about 1.6 million visitors to Flagler in 2012, she said, and they spent $260 million here.

But most of them weren’t coming from very far away: 46% were from other areas of Florida, and another 9% were coming from Georgia. About 3% came from Canada. Most — 76% — visited without children under the age of 18.

The county also has a high rate of return visitation, she said. About 95% of visitors from out of state visited more than once, as did about 90% of visitors from inside the state.

That kind of information, Turner said, can help the chamber target its advertising and marketing.

Spending los of money on advertising in states outside Florida and Georgia, for instance, doesn’t yield much, so the chamber will focus on those two states.

Of the chamber’s planned $900,000 budget, $322,562 is slated for advertising and public relations. Another $299,417 will go to staff and fulfillment, and $123,550 will be set aside for multimedia production.

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