Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tourism Council Wants a Visitor Center; Tourist Bureau Services Contract to Be Negotiated

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tourism Council Wants a Visitor Center; Tourist Bureau Services Contract to Be Negotiated

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

With eyes on what St. Augustine and Savannah have built, the Duval County Tourist Development Council decided Wednesday to go back for a second round of bids in the attempt to set up a museum-like visitor center in Jacksonville.

City Council President Lori Boyer, who doubles as chairwoman of the tourism board, said, "We have great history. ... We have great amenities. Why can't we have a visitor center of that quality?"

Boyer said the effort might require more money than the city has devoted in the past to its visitor centers, but it could be worth it if the next round of bids can bring proposals for how to boost the current level of service.

"You want to be a tourist destination? Let's be a tourist destination," Boyer said. "If we're going to spend $7 million on promoting tourism, let's get some mojo out of it."

The $7 million figure is the total budget for the Tourist Development Council. The money comes from a tax on hotel rooms.

The Tourist Development Council has a contract with Visit Jacksonville, a non-profit organization, to promote tourism. That deal expires on Oct. 1; and the Tourist Development Council will be awarding new contracts in three areas: convention sales, marketing and tourist bureau services.

The council, which consits of City Council members and tourism industry representatives, voted unanimously to enter into negotiations for two of the contracts. …

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