ROB VARLEY: Westin Hotel Convention Center project not fair unless Brevard County does a detailed study


YOUR OPINION • YOUR OPINION

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Varley was Executive Director of the Florida Space Coast Office of Tourism for over 20 years, retiring in 2014 after leading Brevard County Tourism during a time of accelerated growth and challenges. (Image of the Espace Côte Tourist Office)

In my opinion, the proposed Westin Hotel convention center project will not be a fair and equal playing field unless the county does their due diligence and orders a detailed study of not only this project, but real needs of the community as a whole, with regard to the construction of a convention center.

It is commendable that Brevard County is studying how best to invest the resort tax money generated by visitors staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds, etc. from our region.

When the residents of Brevard County voted on the Brevard County tourist tax on accommodation in the area, they were confident that the proposed uses of the funds would benefit the Space Coast as a whole.

Over the years, the county has done a fairly good job managing these important economic development funds. We have built a world-class zoo, invested wisely in beach renovations, supported local arts, organized thousands of sporting events, invested in beach and river parks in our area, attracted major projects from filming and television, and attracted birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts from all over. the world.

An important part of the county’s successful tourism industry is its partnership with the private sector. Certainly, partnering with Port Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center and Cruise Lines at tourism trade shows and advertising has paid great dividends to our economy over the years. As are our partnerships with area hotels and other area attractions.

When partnering with the private sector, the tourism board should always consider how this partnership will benefit the whole community. And is this partnership open to similar companies in the private sector? A fair and level playing field should be a must for the Brevard County Tourism Board.

In my opinion, the proposed Westin Hotel convention center project will not be a fair and equal playing field unless the county does their due diligence and orders a detailed study of not only this project, but real needs of the community as a whole, with regard to the construction of a convention center.

The county should then be obligated to provide this study to all interested hotel developers, asking for their ideas, contributions and proposals.

I’m not just talking about the developers of Cocoa Beach hotels. The county must ensure that the study covers all regions of the space coast. The study should understand how to develop the best deal with the “winning” proposition that will benefit the entire county. Only then will it be a fair and equitable project.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Varley was Executive Director of the Florida Space Coast Office of Tourism for over 20 years, retiring in 2014 after leading Brevard County Tourism during a time of accelerated growth and challenges.

After obtaining his tourism experience in Texas and California, Varley came to the Space Coast, bringing a vision of strong cooperation between counties.

He emphasized the cleanliness of the county’s beaches, positioning Port Canaveral as a major tourist attraction, partnering with Melbourne Orlando International Airport to market and attract more airlines, and recognized that our wetlands are the most productive ecosystems in the world.

Varley provided sustainable tourism and recreation opportunities and worked with the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to expand human presence at this world-famous tourist attraction.


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