TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that the Northwest Florida Tourism Council (NWFTC) will receive a $30 million BP marketing grant to help mitigate impacts to Northwest Florida’s tourism industry as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The grant was a direct result of efforts by Governor Scott, with the help of local leaders, to ensure BP is more deeply invested in the Northwest Florida recovery effort.
“I’m pleased that BP is doing the right thing, and I’m optimistic that with the assistance of this grant the world will know that Florida’s beaches are as beautiful as ever and open for business,” Governor Scott said. “However, this is just one small step on the road to recovery, and I’m going to continue to hold BP accountable to the Floridians and businesses that lost millions of dollars because of the oil spill.”
The Governor and the NWFTC signed two separate agreements which direct the $30-million marketing grant directly to the NWFTC coalition, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin, and establishes a policy for handling the grant.
"On behalf of the tourism council, we want to thank BP for helping to ensure Northwest Florida returns to its previous state and continuing to support this region's economic recovery. This grant is over and above what is being allocated through the claims process," said Dawn Moliterno, chairperson for the NWFTC. "We believe this additional marketing push will be just what Northwest Florida needs to create that share of voice to showcase that our beaches are as beautiful as ever.”
The three-year grant must be used for the purposes of tourism promotion and awareness building. BP will evaluate expenditures and the NWFTC partners have agreed to quarterly updates on tourism program activities and results pursuant to the grant agreement. The detailed reports will measure results against quarterly benchmarks to demonstrate how the funds are being used and the results that were generated. Return on investment will be measured in variety of ways including website metrics and analytics, participation at events, visitation, bed tax collections and economic impact.
BP America's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization Executive Vice President, Luke Keller said, “BP is very pleased to be working cooperatively with Governor Scott and the state on this road from response to restoration. The agreement we have signed is a further example of BP's commitment to doing what is in the best interest of the state and the people of Florida. Today's announcement brings BP's commitment to Florida to $82 million for tourism and seafood testing and marketing.”
The NWFTC was created by seven tourism development councils (TDCs) many years ago for the purpose of marketing Northwest Florida through a regional partnership. The seven-county coalition reunited after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in an effort to overcome misperceptions about the status of Florida beaches. The organization, which is a 501C6, will receive the overall marketing grant funds and then distribute to the seven TDCs. The dollars will be allocated to each TDC based on an agreed upon formula—two percent flat plus two percent of annual bed tax collections. The individual grants will allow each organization the flexibility to customize advertising and marketing programs to their customers and markets and address specific needs.
"The Tourism Council has been in conversations with BP since fall of 2010," said Moliterno. "We owe a great deal to our Governor Rick Scott and his staff who have been working tirelessly with state and local elected officials, our partners and VISIT FLORIDA to rally on behalf of the region, encouraging additional marketing funds be made available prior to our peak summer season."