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Pensacola News Journal: Visit Pensacola launches new Tourism Works campaign to tout industry’s impact on economy

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

By Jim Little

isit Pensacola wants everyone to know the impact of tourism on the economy of Escambia County, so it is launching the Tourism Works for Pensacola campaign.

Visit Pensacola officials announced the new campaign at a press conference at the Pensacola Visitor’s Center at Wayside Park.

The new campaign will focus on five aspects of what tourism does for Pensacola: the jobs and wages it brings, the spending tourists generate in the local economy, the tax revenue it generates, the return on investment for marketing Pensacola as tourism destination and the “quality of place” tourism creates for residents.

Visitors to Escambia County spent more than $787 million in 2016, and Jason Nicholson, chairman of Visit Pensacola and vice president of Operations of Innisfree Hotels, said that number is on trajectory to hit $1 billion by 2022 or 2023.

“We’ve been very humble about what the positive impacts of hospitality are, and it’s always been a missing element to me,” Nicholson said. “We know or we can deduce what the impact of a university is, or schools or the government impact, but we haven’t been careful to quantify exactly what that positive impact (of tourism) is and how deep that impact runs.”

The campaign comes at a time when the county is working on a plan to ease traffic congestion on Pensacola Beach, and there is debate among County Commissioners on how to spend tourism tax revenue on things other than marketing, such as on public safety or a new sports arena and youth sports complex.

“As we begin to have conversations about where Pensacola, as a community and a destination, are going to be in 10 and 20 years, I think it’s good to know the impact of the industry before we decide collectively where we want that industry to go and what we want the community to look like,” Nicholson said.

The new campaign will highlight that 41 percent of all taxes collected in Escambia County can be attributed to tourism and 46 percent of all property taxes in the county can be attributed to tourism from lodging, according to numbers provided by Visit Pensacola.

“When those numbers are brought to light, people immediately recognize — oh wow this is a big deal in our community,” Nicholson said. “And with any industry, it can go both ways. If we’re not supportive of it, it can slide backwards.”

Visit Pensacola has launched a website for the campaign,

Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola, said recent focus groups of Pensacola residents found that people already have positive views of tourism in the community, and the goal of the campaign is to expand that.

“We’ve got all these positive things, and tourism is a positive to the community. So how do we help better tell that story?” Hayes said. “It’s more than just how much they’re spending, it’s what they’re doing to improve the quality of place, which is our community.”

Jim Little can be reached at and 850-208-9827.


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