By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
The Volusia County Council took another look at its Tourism Marketing Study at the Ocean Center on March 8.
The purpose was to review recommendations on the study. Plenty of discussions took place, but nothing was clarified or set in stone.
The study was first introduced at a meeting on Jan. 28. The Strategic Advisory Group of Atlanta and its lead advisor Dan Fenton conducted the study.
There were 150 local entities in the tourism industry contributing to the study, which cost the county $100,000.
Tourism is the top industry in Volusia Count and it brings in $3 to $4.2 million per year.
It was suggested the county and tourism industry make decisions supported by research, which some counselors agree upon.
"When I first got on the council, we had four different rate cards for ads for the Orlando Sentinel and there is no way that should happen," Councilman Josh Wagner said. "Too long we have made decisions without research. It's not expensive if it's effective."
"I believe we need this to be effective. How we get there is the question. The answer also needs to be research driven," Councilwoman Joyce Cusack said.
One recommendation was the three advertising authorities in the county -- Halifax Area, Southeast Volusia and West Volusia -- work together and share information.
"The three are now sitting down and in discussion of how to work together," Mr. Fenton said.
A task force to come up with ways to bring in tourism money also was recommended.
"We have missed opportunities with those wanting to do business here in the past," Councilman Doug Daniels said. "This could be a fundamentally different place. They were run out of town. We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, and we need to start inviting these people in and making things happen."
Another suggestion was to look for ways to find members for a sports commission. According to the study, sports bring $36 million a year into Volusia's economy.
"I would love to see more sports in the area. Sports are a proven money maker. We have the Speedway, the Daytona 500, Daytona Cubs . . . which does well. We can bring in things and have more," County Chair Jason Davis said.
"We need to move forward with sports. We have many travel and youth teams that will be better suited for a commission," Wagner said.
There are still concerns about the west side of the county being left out.
"We have now gotten some input from the hotels on the west side of the county," Mr. Fenton said.
"I also represent the west side of the county. I live on the west side and my at-large seat is for the west side. I am aware of their concerns," Councilwoman Cusack said.
Residents and business leaders in attendance also sounded off on the study.
"In the past, there was a project that would have put four blocks near this building that could have made money. It was a $100million project, but the City of Daytona Beach shot it down," said John Nicholson of Daytona Beach. "We aren't pushing tourism. Daytona gives money to the county. We have plenty of hotels. The county takes our money, but doesn't want our name. Daytona deserves more respect. Most of the tourism is produced here."
"I asked that you do what is best. We need to create teams of people who identify problems and come up with solutions and implement them," said Dan Francoti, manager of the Daytona Beach Kennel Club.
"I want to mention that I was encouraged by what I've seen and heard," said Jim Cameron, senior vice president of government relations for the Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce. "There were good recommendations and discussions. We've got to look at what we are doing differently."
"Destination marketing is the key," said Scott Chesley, owner of Festival Design in Daytona Beach. "Our county is like a high school with juniors, seniors and sophomores that aren't working together. The thing is what is Volusia County and what we want it to be. We have a lot of great things here. The Ocean Center must market Daytona and the county. We have to market what is here already."