After learning recently that all three tourism-promotion agencies in Volusia County had aced audits, the County Council unanimously approved annual budgets for all three.
The West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority spending plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 totals $1.055 million, of which about $698,500 should be the authority’s share of the county’s Convention Development Tax. The rest of the budget comes from a carryover of roughly $358,000 from the current year and $1,500 in miscellaneous income, such as proceeds from the sale of maps, Georgia Turner, the authority’s executive director, told The Beacon.
The County Council Aug. 25 also approved the budgets of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority ($10.8 million) and the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority ($3.1 million).
The Convention Development Tax is a 6-percent levy on hotels, motels, campgrounds and other short-term accommodations. Half of the money generated covers the operation of the county’s Ocean Center convention center, and the other half is allocated among the three tourism promotion agencies.
The West Volusia authority’s share of the Convention Tax is actually a few dollars more than the current year’s budget, which was just over $608,000. The current year’s total budget is $997,333, Turner said.
“No one could have seen COVID-19 coming!” Turner wrote in a newsletter. “But luckily, the West Volusia area has fared better than many destinations because our outdoor offerings never closed!”
Turner said the hotels in West Volusia also have done fairly well during the pandemic, with many transient workers and the like renting rooms.
“It has been a relatively good summer despite it all,” she told The Beacon. “It has not been horrible.”
The WVTAA plans to continue promoting four key markets on this side of the county: Outdoor Enthusiast, which will be promoted as the “Safe Outdoors”; Arts, Culture & History; Destination Weddings; and Health & Wellness, Turner said in her newsletter.
“We will also utilize footage from the award-winning video series ‘What’s Up in West Volusia’ and promote the now-complete ‘Wings of the West’ trail. Several wedding, travel and ‘Boomer’ shows are planned for 2020-21,” she wrote.
In addition, a new “Cool Craft” beverage trail is in development, as well as the continuation of the Wellness Initiative in conjunction with the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance, she said.
The West Volusia authority will also continue to partner with VISIT FLORIDA, the other two ad agencies, Stetson University, the MainStreet DeLand Association and other tourism-related entities, Turner said.
All three of Volusia County’s advertising authorities passed internal audits with flying colors and earned unanimous County Council approval of their spending plans for the next fiscal year, county spokesman Gary Davidson said.
The audits turned up a small handful of extremely minor issues — such as a few missing receipts and failure to document the purpose of some taxi or ride-share trips. In a few instances, sales tax was added to credit card transactions that should have been tax-free. And on two occasions, rounding errors resulted in minor miscalculation of mileage reimbursements — one by 40 cents and the other by 24 cents, Davidson said.