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Downtown Pensacola tourism meeting
PENSACOLA -- For 30 years, the Pensacola Chamber has been the tourism arm for Escambia County.
But that could all be changing soon, and that change comes with some discomfort.
Attracting people to Pensacola and Escambia County is the goal. The battle now is over who has the best plan to do so.
One group says they have a new vision for tourism. Other people disagree.
It's getting contentious.
Members of the Tourist Development Council are pushing for the county to turn the county's tourism, and more than five million dollars in tourism development tax dollars, over to a new version of Visit Pensacola -- a version delivered by Innisfree Hotel's Ron Ellington.
It's a move that has been discussed for months, but is now under the public microscope.
Some question the new group's structure, cite a lack of information and say the transition plan is flawed.
The Greater Pensacola Chamber is asking for more time to make sure any transition goes smoothly.
At least three county commissioners are ready to give that time.
"It's true that now it's coming to light, so there are people out there asking questions. And it's good that they ask questions. Hopefully we have the answers to the questions like we did here today. But I'm not concerned with the pace portion of it. At the end of the day it still rests on the BOCC to determine whether or not more time is needed or not for the transition," says Nash Patel of the Tourist Development Council.
As for what happens to the current version of Visit Pensacola that operates under the Chambers umbrella. Chamber Vice President of Tourism Steve Haynes says he and his staff will keep doing the job, not matter who holds the purse strings.
"We've got to go out and continue to market this destination and all the attributes of it and what people can do here. So the staff that's been doing this in the last number of years is still going to be doing the same thing," says Haynes.
The ultimate decision on who takes over the tourism arm in Escambia County lies with the Board of County Commissioners.
That decision should be coming soon.