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Positioning The Palm Beaches As Florida's Premier Tourism Destination — And Getting Results

During our February 16 webinar "Cross-Border Business Development; Palm Beach & Bahrain" we were honored to have so many diplomats and professionals speak about the evolving relationship between the business and educational communities of Palm Beach and Bahrain, including Mr. Jorge Pesquera from Discover The Palm Beaches.

Thank you very much, Al, for this opportunity and Rose, for giving us that overview of the attractions in Bahrain. I have not visited Bahrain, but I have had a little experience from my days at Hilton International over 30 years ago when we opened the Bahrain Hilton and I was at the corporate office. But as Peter Ricci also mentioned, there are so many similarities between Bahrain and the Palm Beaches, which is our brand name.

In 2019, Bahrain received over 11 million visitors. We were a little over 8 million visitors. There's 18,000 rooms in Bahrain, and there's 18,000 rooms in Palm Beach County. And the branding for Bahrain is Ours And Yours - focusing on Bahrain's experiences delivered to its people. Our branding promise is Hospitality Is A Way Of Life.

So with that, here's who we are — we're the official tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County. We have a contract with the Board of County Commissioners. We're private, not for profit organization, fully accredited by Destinations International. We have a large board of 25 members, seven of whom are appointed by county commissioners. Because we're funded through the Bed tax. And we're one of the Tourism Development Council agencies, we have a mission simply to grow the tourism economy and a vision to position the Palm Beaches as Florida's Premier tourism destination.

If you go to the next slide, this is our destination team. As I mentioned, the agencies that you see on the left are the ones that are funded through the 6% nightly tax on stays and accommodations includes the Cultural Council, the Film Commission, the Sports Commission, and the beach re-nourishment efforts of the county. And on the right, our good friend Kelly Smallridge is a true partner at the Business Development Board, acting as an ambassador and a champion for the destination, bringing conferences and events to Palm Beach County. And, of course, Palm Beach International Airport, which is a wonderful asset and one of the best airports in the country.

Go to the next slide. It shows how the Bed tax is distributed, which is what funds and fuels the tourism development efforts for Palm Beach County. And this is 2019 figures - In 2022, we're expecting to surpass $60 million in collections, and we get about 30% of that, which is about $20 million to promote the brand of the Palm Beaches around the country and around the world. But we work closely with all these agencies. So this is what creates the tourism economy in a nutshell. This is the impact of tourism in Palm Beach County. We're talking about almost an $8 billion economic impact. It's 12% of the county's economy. It is the second largest industry after agriculture. So many different households it's 60,000 households depend on travel over $240,000,000 in taxes and fees generated and 70,000 jobs supported by this great industry.

And I think we have one more slide which is just a trajectory we've had which is very similar to Bahrain's. Over the last decade, we've doubled visitation into Palm Beach County from 4 million to over 8 million. Of course, everybody took a huge hit in 2020 but we had a great recovery last year and we're looking forward to breaking records again at the end of the current year of 2022 and beyond.

With that, I'm thankful for the opportunity and look forward to more exchanges.

— Jorge Pesquera

Discover The Palm Beaches


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