County approves record high tourism budget

Bradenton Anna Maria Island Longboat Key

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Manatee County commissioners have approved a record $13.2 million marketing budget for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for fiscal year 2020-21.

Highlights of the 2020-21 CVB budget:

Online/digital marketing            $2.36 million

Sports marketing                        $2.1 million

Advertising agency (Aqua)       $1.23 million

LECOM Park                      $900,000

Florida Railroad Museum   $700,000

Central European marketing $688,714

Allegiant Airlines initiatives $630,000

United Kingdom marketing $628,693

TV/radio ads                       $458,000

Tourism consultant             $310,000

Website management        $300,000

Concert series                    $200,000

Anna Maria Island budget items

AMI Chamber of Commerce Tourist Information Center and Ambassador program         $181,900

AMI Chamber ads                $90,000

Magazine/newspaper ads    $82,050

Symphony on the Sand        $60,000

Sandblast                             $12,000

Source: Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

The budget – up 67% from five years ago – is aimed at attracting more visitors to Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key.

The largest overall expenditure is online and digital marketing – more than $2.36 million over two years – reflecting an industrywide departure from print advertising.

Sports marketing ranks second, with $2.1 million allocated, not including another $900,000 in capital improvements for baseball stadium LECOM Park (McKechnie Field).

Other high-ticket items are the Aqua advertising agency ($1.23 million, not including its portion of the online and digital marketing budget), marketing in Central Europe ($688,714) and marketing in the United Kingdom ($628,693).

Budget funding is generated by Manatee County’s 5% tourist tax, paid by visitors to lodging establishments that rent for six months or less. The county spends about half of the tax proceeds on tourism marketing to draw more tourists to the area; 20% of the taxes are allocated to beach renourishment. Other recent uses have included rebuilding fishing piers in Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach.

The Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC) voted in June to recommend the budget to Manatee County commissioners for final approval on Sept. 24.

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