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Tourist Development Contracts

The December 13, 2022, Collier County Board of County Commissioners meeting consent agenda (the consent agenda is routinely considered at the beginning of the meeting and voted on without discussion) included two tourist development-related items that recommended the continued renewal of exemptions from the competitive process in awarding contracts.   

One contract would approve the renewal of an exemption from the competitive process for promotional expenses with J.W. Marriot Marco Island, for a not to exceed amount of $150,000 annually for a period of five (5) years. The previously approved exemption expired on September 30, 2022. These expenses include accommodations, food and beverage, audio-visual equipment rental, event transportation, and visits by meeting planners, public relations journalists, tour operators, and travel agents. The expenses also include Request For Proposal Enhancement funds that are used to attract group meeting attendee business to Collier County. This program was initially approved by the BCC on February 22, 2011 as a one-year, emergency response initiative to entice visitors.   

The second contract would approve the renewal of an exemption from the competitive process for promotional expenses such as registrations for trade shows, conferences, and advertising with Visit Florida, not to exceed $150,000 annually for a period of five (5) years, for a total of $750,000. The previously approved exemption, approved on February 11, 2020 in a not to exceed amount of $125,000 annually, expired on September 30, 2022. 

The Board took no action on these items, they were both continued until January 10, 2023. The January 2023 draft agenda includes two recommended contract approvals for tourism representation services in the United Kingdom and Ireland markets and in Germany markets.   

The first contract is to represent Collier County in the United Kingdom and Ireland international tourism markets. The existing agreement with OMMAC Ltd. expired on September 30, 2022. In response to an RFP, the sole respondent was OMMAC Ltd. In an effort to increase competition, the solicitation was extended two weeks. The extended response deadline did not result in additional proposals. The annual amount of this contract is projected to be $200,000.   

The second contract is to represent Collier County in the Germany international tourism market. Collier County has been represented by Diamonde e.K. in this market for the past 15 years. In response to an RFP, there were two (2) responsive and responsible proposals received. In an effort to increase competition, the solicitation was extended two weeks. The extended response deadline did not result in any additional proposals. The existing agreement with Diamonde e.K. expired on September 30, 2022. The annual amount for the first year of this contract is projected to be $180,000.   

The following statement was made in each of these Executive Summaries relative to the financial impact of these two contracts: 

Statement re UK/Ireland Contract Activities 

International visitation to Collier County accounts for 20% of total visitation and historically accounts for approximately 309,000 annual visitors. The UK market alone accounts for 1/3 of all international visitation equating to an estimated economic impact exceeding $260M annually from the UK market alone. Representation within the international markets is a critical equation to international visitation as they are the primary marketing and trade representation within the overseas markets. The UK reps are the PR, Promotion in-market travel trade presence and consumer direct marketing arm. The fee represented in this agreement includes such efforts and not just agency fees. The CVB relies on these representatives to apply their efforts to target the trade as well as consumer direct and PR initiatives in country. Each month within the TDC Staff Partner reports, each international representative provides a detailed and extensive report demonstrating their efforts for the previous month. 

Statement re Germany Contract Activities 

International visitation to Collier County accounts for 20% of total visitation and historically accounts for approximately 309,000 annual visitors. The German market alone accounts for 1/3 of all international visitation equating to an estimated economic impact exceeding $260M annually from the German market alone. Representation within the international markets is a critical equation to international visitation as they are the primary marketing and trade representation within the overseas markets. The German reps are the PR, Promotion in-market travel trade presence and consumer direct marketing arm. The fee represented in this agreement includes such efforts and not just agency fees. The CVB relies on these representatives to apply their efforts to target the trade as well as consumer direct and PR initiatives in country. Each month within the TDC Staff Partner reports, each international representative provides a detailed and extensive report demonstrating their efforts for the previous month. 

Future Focus 

Concerns relative to these contracts are their long-standing durations, the lack of or very limited competition, and the lack of direct data identifying the return on investment. The preceding statements relative to the results from the United Kingdom/Ireland and German markets are boilerplate in nature and virtually identical in wording. No citations are provided to document how the numbers were generated. Contracts were not included in the supporting documentation, nor were there specific requirements for performance, improvements or evidence of performance included for consideration.   

The Clerk’s Office is working with county staff on further details regarding these expenditure requests.  

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