Watchdog Committee Formed to Oversee TDC

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Developers Charlie Hilton and Joe Chapman, along with former TDC Chairman Jack Bishop are among those who say they'd like to see the bed tax money spent more wisely.

Their biggest concern is over the Beaches Marketing Campaign.

When members of the Bay County Tourist Development Council showed up for Tuesday’s meeting, they weren't alone.

Some of the heavy hitters from the beach business community were there as well. They said they weren't happy with the way the TDC has been handling things lately.

"Our purpose is to understand that we can't stand still,” said former Chairman Jack Bishop. “We have a new PCB and we've got to change and we've got to get more effective in marketing our new product."

Specifically, Bishop wants the TDC to take all new pictures and video of the beaches to show the new up-scale resorts and accommodations.

He and others also want to see the TDC put more money into marketing. "The rates have gone up, the product has changed, but our marketing dollar has not changed," he said.

That would mean an increase in the bed tax money.

Right now, tourists pay an extra 3% for rooms.

Some would like to see that go up to 4-or-5%.

Bishop and his backers want the majority of that money go to advertising the beaches, while others would like to see the money go directly into the beach.

"I want beach re-nourishment," says Hilton.

The only thing actually resolved at the meeting was the establishment of an oversight committee, made up of 50-or so community members.

They will keep a closer watch over the way the TDC markets the beach and spends the bed tax dollars.

The TDC’s new chairman, Jim Lawson welcomes the "watch dog" committee. "Jack Bishop and other beach leaders are planning on being actively involved and monitoring what is happening in today's TDC and we welcome that," he said. "They are the pioneers of PCB. They are the ones who have taken us from a sleepy little town destination to where we are today and on the threshold of where we're going."

The TDC’s current marketing budget is $300,000 dollars a year. A large portion of that goes to advertise spring break to college students.