$2.8 Million to be Spent Promoting Panama City

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PANAMA CITY - The group that's guiding Panama City's effort to begin collecting bed taxes is making progress.

Thursday they discussed the rough draft of their report on spending the money.

Panama City's Bed Tax Advisory Committee has come up with a tentative plan to spend $1.4 million that they expect to collect each year from a proposed bed tax.

"This is a tax that is paid for by visitors coming to and staying in Panama City hotels. The committee has been tasked with writing an initial plan that will cover the first two years of operation after the tax has passed," said Dan Rowe, Bay County, TDC Executive Director.

Rowe says the key to making Panama City a tourist destination is focusing on it's unique features.

"The connection to the water, the connection to boats, the connection to the bay and there are also some great restaurants and great galleries. I mean the visual arts, the Marina Civic Center there are some great resources that are here. The challenge is to tell that story to potential visitors that want to come in and take advantage of those opportunities," he said.

"There's really wonderful resources that we can capture and promote this bed tax that right now people may not know about," said Andrew Levy, Bed Tax Advisory Committee chairman.

A number of the committee's ideas take advantage of those assets.

They're suggesting they spend some of the bed tax money on a ferry service or water taxi that would run between the Downtown and St. Andrews Marinas.

They're also discussing special events like concerts.

Levy said, "I think this is great, I think there is a tremendous opportunity for panama city and to be able to have money to actually promote the great things that Panama City has."

Committee members have 90 days to present their final plan to city commissioners.

The state legislature has to approve Panama City's efforts to enact a bed tax district, and the people living in the district also get to vote on the issue before it becomes law.