Buzz: Crist moves TDC meeting

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has moved the meeting with tourism officials from Northwest Florida from today to Sunday. It’s anticipated that he will announce his plan to split the $25M that Tony Hayward said on May 17 he would give the state to help “Gulf region return to normal operations.” BP had already paid $250,000 for ads to be designed and run.

Crist expected to give our area $10 million -which will be divided based on TDC collections. Escambia County will get $1.4 million. Visit Florida will get $10 million and $5 million goes to the rest of the state.

This decision is typical Crist—trying to please everyone, but disappointing everyone. The state continually takes slices of the BP grants to balance its budget and the counties most impacted by this BP oil disaster are only given a portion of the funds.

Republican Marco Rubio, who forced Crist to drop out the party primary for the U.S. Senate and become an independent, scored big points with locals last week when he said that he believed the entire $25 million should go to this area.

Other states aren’t having this amount of politics. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley directed $20M of the $25M that BP gave his state for oil cleanup/recovery efforts to his two coastal counties, $10 million each to Mobile and Baldwin counties. I think Escambia has only gotten about $2-$3 million….and I’m not sure the funds have actually been transferred to county coffers.

Baldwin has its $10M and has already directed $1.5 million of that money to tourism promotion.

How will Alabama spend the $15 million it was given for tourism: $10 million for TV and radio advertising, $5 million to public relations efforts, social media and promoting large-scale events in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

In Mississippi: The Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division has established a steering committee to act as a single marketing voice to represent the tourism stakeholders impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The working group called The Gulf Coast Tourism Steering Committee (GCTSC) consists of the four tourism entities representing the three Mississippi coastal counties and the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. The GCTSC will maintain a comprehensive marketing strategy to utilize the $15 million provided to the State of Mississippi by BP. The group consists of Beth Carriere, Hancock County Tourism Commission; Ken Montana, Harrison County Tourism Commission; Carla Todd, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce/Tourism; Margaret Miller, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce/Tourism and Mary Beth Wilkerson, MDA Tourism Division.