Amelia Island tax dollars slated for off-island tourism
via Wes Wolfe

220315 ai tourism strategy
Nassau County commissioners awarded consultants a contract estimated at $214,500.

To justify paying a consulting firm more than $210,000 to lay out Nassau County’s tourism strategy, county staff noted three big numbers — tourists provide more than one-third of the county’s sales tax revenue, support around 25% of county jobs and are responsible for more than $850 million in economic impact.

County commissioners unanimously approved awarding Jones Lang LaSalle an estimated $214,500 contract Monday night, without discussion. The idea is to “develop a county-wide tourism strategic plan and evolve the tourism market by creating a strategic roadmap to tourism sustainability both on and off-island.”

The Amelia Island Tourism Development Council (TDC) previously approved a resolution stating the same.

“Our process for Nassau County ensures that the resulting plan will build on the success of Amelia Island and focus on the key need areas across the five districts of the county, including increasing the tourism economy off-island and into new areas of Nassau County,” JLL Executive Vice President Daniel Fenton wrote in his November memo to County Manager Taco Pope.

“This will include strategies to increase current and future visitor flow and spending across all tourism sectors, (identify) what additional or new infrastructure may be needed, and assess the current tourism product to determine market strength for future development opportunities.”

The 5% bed tax that generates revenue for tourism development only applies to island businesses. Three-quarters of that money is dedicated specifically to promoting Amelia Island.

County leaders, noticing rapid development and increasing tourism, are trying to look west beyond the Amelia River, however. Commissioners appointed Hilliard Town Council President John Beasley to the TDC in August, the first time someone from the mainland served on the council. The intention was to give a voice to the west side of the county without crowding out those on Amelia Island.

“Although there are no hotels or motels currently on the west side of I-95, all of Nassau County should be represented on this board, not just the island, because tourism is not limited to the island,” Beasley said at his appointment.

Last updated on March 15, 2022

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook: facebook.com/wes.wolfe



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