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Local News

New Campaign Outlines Tourism's Economic Impact

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Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
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Local tourism officials and related businesses are teaming up to inform the public about the economic impact of visitors to the local economy. 

“Tourism Works for Pensacola” is a campaign that will use such stories to show the common thread that tourism provides in giving many here their first jobs or a career path.

“For me, it was not only being the busboy, kitchen washer and the fry cook at a restaurant, but then a lifeguard and then working for McDonalds,” said Steve Hayes, President and CEO of Visit Pensacola. “I never thought I would be in a job like this. This was not what I thought my career path would be. But how many other people have been like that, where hospitality gave them that start?”

Jason Nicholson, Chairman of Visit Pensacola and VP of Operations for Innisfree Hotels, says the hospitality business in Escambia County is healthy, robust, and cause for celebration.

“And not only celebrated, but also promote its future growth and success in a way that’s both providing to the demand of the guest, but also supportive of our quality of place in Escambia County.”

According to the figures provided by Visit Pensacola, tourism reaches outside the hospitality industry. Visitors to Escambia County in 2016, the latest figures availabl, spent more than $787 million. When the 2017 figures are released in about six weeks, Nicholson expects that figure to surpass the $800 million mark.

“If we pace that out, we’re going to be a billion dollar tourism economy in 2022-2023 time frame-ish,” said Nicholson. “A billion dollar economy in Pensacola. That builds a lot of roads; provides for a lot of schools.”

Nicholson adds that almost half, 46 percent, of all property taxes in Pensacola are paid through accommodations generating revenue from the bed tax.

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Credit pensacolatourismworks.com
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Another part of the campaign will describe the impact of the more than 23,000 hospitality-related jobs on the Pensacola area’s economy. Nicholson says $380 million in wages and salaries were plowed back into the local economy in 2016.

“I expect that number to be over $400 million in 2017,” Nicholson said. “As you can imagine, I’m waiting for the ink to dry on that report.

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Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
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As mentioned earlier, the campaign will also focus on “Quality of Place” and how it can be improved through the tourism industry.

“In Escambia County, hospitality is more than just hotels and restaurants,” said Nicholson. “It’s more than fishing charters. We have bankers who are supportive of our hotels; we have interior designers, engineers and architects. You can see how it reaches out into the entire economy.”

As the new campaign begins, other figures from Visit Pensacola show for every dollar spent marketing the Pensacola Bay area, the hospitality industry returns three dollars in taxes and local businesses gain $107.

More information is available at www.pensacolatourismworks.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.