Sarasota News Leader

04/25/2014

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Because hotel occupancy rates have risen, thanks to a spike in tourism, more TDT dollars are being collected from visitors' overnight stays in the county. The matter of how to spend that unanticipated extra TDT revenue has prompted County Commission debate. The topic was first discussed at a budget work- shop last month. Commissioner Joe Barbetta has argued for increased spending on infra- structure that will draw in even more tourists and benefit residents, while other commis- sioners support more spending on marketing the beaches, existing sports venues and local arts programs. On Wednesday, Chairman Charles Hines and Commissioners Nora Patterson and Carolyn Mason approved the additional marketing money, with Barbetta and Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson dissenting. The extra money will allow the tourism bureau to "boost promotion going into late summer," usually the slower months for local hotels and businesses, Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, told the commissioners. Patterson said promotion is the key to get- ting more tourists into Sarasota County. "I've been told Sarasota is pretty much a well-kept secret," she added. A graphic from Visit Sarasota County shows how the agency plans targeted advertising campaigns for community arts and cultural programs, thanks to funds approved by the County Commission this week. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader April 25, 2014 Page 13

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