By Matthew Decker
At the Nassau County Board of Commissioners Meeting on August 24th, 2022, the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC) presented its third quarter results. In spite of increasing revenues from new hotel room availability, the TDC acknowledged slowing demand due to inflation and elevated gas prices. The impending economic recession was not cited as a factor in decreased demand. The TDC’s goal is to position “Amelia Island as one of North America’s top 10 island destinations.” To achieve this goal, an increase in high-rise developments and high-density rentals may be necessary. The County Commission election results were discussed by the Commissioners, and Commissioners Bell and Ford complemented their replacements in the Primary Election.
The Commissioners started off the meeting by recognizing selected County employees for their service and contributions to Nassau County. They recognized Mr. David White, Lead Electrician for Nassau County Facilities Maintenance, for 20 years of service. Mr. Martin Pruitt, a Nassau County Animal Services Animal Control Officer, was acknowledged for the Employee of the Quarter Award. Mr. Robert Companion, Deputy County Manager/County Engineer, was heralded for his reception of the Florida State Government Engineer of the Year Award for 2022.
Mr. Gil Langley, the President and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus, presented the Third Quarter Report from the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC). The Tourist Council’s stated goal is to position “Amelia Island as one of North America’s top 10 island destinations.” To note, the TDC will likely fund the Beach Harmonization Plan to revitalize and improve Amelia Island beaches.
Per Mr. Langley, “April and May [of 2022] stayed strong” in terms of hotel revenue, with revenue per room being the highest in the State of Florida. June and July hotel revenue started to decline due to increased gas prices and rampant inflation. Mr. Langley emphasized that a new marketing campaign will be introduced by the TDC to counteract lowered demand due to the market’s inflationary state. As a whole, hotel revenues increased by 32%, from last year, despite inflation. This is the result of additional rooms being available on Amelia Island. Mr. Langley covered the Bed Tax and its associated revenues. In total, hotels made up 62% of bed tax revenue in 2021/2022 and the overall hotel bed tax generated $3.75 million in revenue.
The following ongoing TDC projects were discussed:
- JLL and its Tourism Strategic Development Plan
- EDSA and its design recommendations for the Beach Harmonization Plan
- Environmental Branding and its Wayfinding signs, a part of the Beach Harmonization Plan
The Beach Harmonization Plan was discussed at the Fernandina Beach City Commission Meeting on August 2nd, 2022. The City Commission provided recommendations for the three plans presented by EDSA, and a finalized plan will be presented to the City and County Commission in September. EDSA will provide a high-level budget for the Beach Harmonization Plan. A separate detailed budget will have to be approved by the County Commission and by the Fernandina Beach City Commission (for parks within the city boundaries) prior to implementation. The TDC is expected to be the paying entity for the Beach Harmonization Plan.
The TDC has several ongoing projects to encourage tourism on Amelia Island. The “Be Kind” Mural, the African American Heritage Brochure, the 360 Degree tour, and sports tourism initiatives are all part of the TDC’s purview.
The remainder of the County Commission meeting was dedicated to new business items including changed purchase orders, the installation of an outside air system and insulation at the Sheriff’s mechanics garage, and acceptance of a State grant to aid in removal of derelict vessels. All items were unanimously approved by the County Commission.
At the close of the meeting, County Commissioners Bell and Ford graciously congratulated Hupp Huppmann and Alyson McCullough, their respective replacements in the Primary Election. In the Primary, Huppmann garnered 63% of the vote for District 2, while Bell received 37% of the vote. McCullough got 47% of the vote for District 4, with former Commissioner George Spicer receiving 38%, and incumbent Ford getting 24%. For more information, the Primary Election results are covered here: https://www.citizensjournal.net/2022-primary-election-results-for-nassau-county-so-far/
Matthew Decker is a Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, having set up some of the technical and social media infrastructure. He also developed sourcing for some of its municipal government and business content. He is an Aerospace Engineer by trade. He has worked in NGO’s performing civic activities. He originally hails from Ventura, CA.