7 of the 9 board members were present. Absent were Marty McDaniel and Mayor Oberst.
SEA TURTLE LIGHTING ORDINANCE UPDATE
- Doug Sale, the TDC/CVB’s legal counsel, updated the Board on what has occurred since the 12/21/07 meeting (http://www.pcbdaily.com/?p=108) when the Board passed the recommended turtle lighting ordinance. Sale advised that the Army Corps of Engineers asked the TDC to reconsider the portion of the recommended ordinance that deals with existing development. The Corps are not comfortable continuing with the 2008 beach renourishment due to the lack of approval from U.S. Fish & Wildlife. Sale reiterated his prior opinion that the TDC would eventually prevail if the TDC fought the Corps in court; however, this would likely stop all renourishment during what may be a long process.
- Mr. Sale reported that he has been working with CVB Staff, USF&W, and some property owners attempting to work out a compromise. Sale and Staff were seeking approval from the Board to continue to attempt a compromise. Although no formal vote was taken, no objection was received from any Board members.
- Sale also presented the working revised draft ordinance (02.29.2008). In the working draft, existing development will be required to retrofit any major floodlights shortly after the ordinance is passed. Shielding of these fixtures will be permitted in some cases. Additional time would be allowed for replacing additional forms of lighting with turtle-friendly fixtures. The draft provides that any fixtures that need to be replaced could us existing wiring and would not need to be moved.
PANAMA CITY BEACH CVB AUDIT
- Ms. Katherine Lynn of Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC reported that her firm had given the CVB an unqualified opinion on the financial statements for the year ended September 30, 2007. For those non-accountants, this means that her firm believes that everything is financially OK.
BED TAX UPDATE
- President Dan Rowe reported that bed tax numbers for January were up 6.6% over the prior year. However, Rowe reminded the Board that this does not mean that occupancy was up.
2008 MARKETING PLAN REVISIONS
- President Rowe presented the 2008 Destination Retail Promotion proposal prepared by Y Partnership. The proposal is designed to help with this downturn in travel expected this year. The promotion is that lodging, dining, entertainment and attraction components be marketed under a common theme with each offering discounts from normal rates.
- While I like the idea in concept, I am concerned about the ability of the CVB to negotiate significant discounts from the non-accommodation participants to make this program marketable. For example, the CVB’s Winter Resident Discount Program this past season only included 9 dining partners that were primarily offering 10% discounts or free beverages. The attraction discounts were more significant (e.g. 25% off), but had only 4 participants. I do not believe that discounts like this will encourage undecided visitors to choose PCB.
- The proposal will be presented to the Marketing Committee next week for formal review.
INDIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL UPDATE
- President Rowe reported on the response received to the request for proposal previously distributed. Although staff received a lot of “not interested” response, Rowe is encouraged by one organization that is expected to deliver a final proposal by March 17th. Rowe advised that the CVB had not received any response from Ron Johnson / Sound Associates which ran the 2007 festival.
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS UPDATE
- An outline of the results of the January retreat was distributed to the board. The outline will be distributed to the community for comment prior to the April Board meeting.
UPDATE ON COLLEGE SPRING BREAK 2008
- President Rowe reported that all of the feedback he had received on the market segment has been positive.
- Chairman Andy Phillips then asked for reports from the college spring break oriented business in attendance
- Marketing Committee Member Jack Bishop reported that the group of clubs he is associated with estimates that business is down 17% from last year. Bishop also expects the club sector to have a very difficult Easter Week since our visitors will consist of both college students and families.
- Board Member Mike Bennett reported that his families businesses (Sharkys/Seahaven Resort and Hammerhead Freds) were doing well but were down over last year.
- Board Member Yanni Patronis reported that things were a little slow at Captain Andersons.
- Lee Ann Leonard of By The Sea Resorts advised that they were running at 98% of their budget.
- Philip Covin of the Holiday Inn Sunspree reported that week 1 was soft, but they were expecting to be sold out for the remaining 3 weeks. Covin, however, did state that he expected April to be quiet.
ADDITIONAL PUBLIC COMMENT
- Jack Bishop (a member of the CVB Marketing Committee) advised that he believes that the policy of allowing audience participation only at the beginning of the meeting and at the end of the meeting is preventing open discussion. I would like to add that I agree with Mr. Bishop’s opinion. I would suggest that the board implement the policies of the PCB City Council. That Council allows public comment prior to each vote. That way the public does not need to anticipate what motions will be made prior to the meeting beginning. Bishop also expressed his belief that a significantly lower number of winter residents visited our destination this past season. Bishop is of the belief that the CVB’s agency is at least partly responsible due to their emphasis on emerging markets rather than our traditional winter visitor markets.
- Kirk Lancaster (a member of the CVB Marketing Committee) reminded the Board about the trash problem on our beaches. Mr. Lancaster has organized a program this year that is providing an opportunity for volunteer students to help clean up after the spring break visitors. Lancaster mentioned the need for recycling bins, additional trash drums and trash bags for the spring breakers. Lancaster also suggested that the Board prohibit vehicular traffic and sand rakes on the beach due to evidence that they interfere with turtle nesting