Business Politics

Visit Pensacola bylaws ensure lodging industry control

September 18, 2013

Tale of Two Bylaws

Ron Ellington drafted on July 10 a set of bylaws for Visit Pensacola that he shared with the Greater Pensacola Chamber officials. The final set delivered to the county commission on Sept. 16 is significantly different. The new version strengthens the hoteliers control over tourism tax dollars.

July 10 version: To develop, administer and promote tourism through the performance of general activities for the development and promotion of tourism and convention activities in Escambia County.
Sept. 16 version: To develop, administer and promote tourism through the performance of general activities that increase the number of leisure and convention overnight guests, Tourism Development Tax (TDT), other tax collection including Local Option Sales Tax, and related product and services sales in Escambia County.

Analysis: The change clearly defines the mission for the benefit of hotels and condominiums. The new mission statement makes it difficult for any proposal that doesn’t directly benefit the hotels and condos to receive funding from Visit Pensacola.

The July 10 draft had only seven classes, which included the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce. The Sept. 16 version has eight classes, replacing beach chamber with Arts, Culture, Entertainment and adding an At-Large seat. The new version also requires that new classes and/or members be added in pairs and one must be a bed tax collector.

Analysis: Requiring additional members be added in pairs makes sure lodging industry controls the board.

Board Removal for Cause:
The July 10 version didn’t have this section. The new version says, “Any member who supports a competing TDT budget request shall constitute a conflict of interest and its Class, Member and Board seat shall be automatically and immediately terminated if the Class Member fails to withdraw its support of that competing budget request within 10 days of being notified in writing of the conflict of interest.”

Analysis: ACE has asked for a portion of the 2013 budget surplus for a cultural arts festival. This section could get them kicked off the board.

Board of Directors:

The new version mandates that all directors advance the goals and objectives of Visit Pensacola. No director can support a competing request of TDT dollars. July 10 version gave the lodging industry only one seat. The Sept. 16 version gives them two seats.

Analysis: It’s not difficult to see where this is going.

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  • John September 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    LOL what were you expecting?

  • grandot September 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Extremely poor bylaws. Lack of full tourism industry inclusion…issues way beyond the race/art conversation. What do you suppose will be the draw to Pensacola hotels if the special events, museums, tourist facilities and amenities are weakened/lost due to lack of development and appropriate support??…perhaps a hearing to be held here in Pensacola by the gaming commission will offer solace{:)}to the hoteliers should locals not reach into pockets at a deeper level to make these things happen. I’m sure there are entities to be discussed and promoting proposed changes to the laws with which the hoteliers (VISIT PENSACOLA) can collaborate that will replace the locals who have created the market for these hotels. Such an easy and obvious trail to follow on the take-over…and yet some people are “surprised”. Beach is valuable, but way more reasons than sand and water bring people to Escambia county as tourists. GREED is a very detrimental business quality to overcome!!!

  • Dale Parker September 18, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Who did not see this happening raise your hand. First of all, no one comes to Pensacola on vacation for the arts. It is the beach, fishing, water sports, museums, shopping, scooters, funny cars, boat rentals, paddle boarding, beach, beach Eco sports activities, and more beach. People come and eat at restaurants and do fun things. Hotels are a secondary consideration, in short they are a necessity NOT a reason. There is no consideration for the very reason people come here.

    What this was, remove Hizer, hijack tourism by the same crew the attempted the first failed coup. When I vacation, hotel to me is not anything more than a mere consideration because I have to have a place to stay.

    Let’s be truthful