Who will market Martin County? County cut loose convention and visitors bureau 10 months ago

Consultant recommends creating marketing unit

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - After a slow autumn, coming off a summer of polluted water, hotel occupancies have skyrocketed in Martin County.

"The winter up north resulted in a great winter for us with the bed tax up 11%," said Martin County Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Abbate.

But Abbate says the county can't rely on that going forward.

"We need to stay engaged in the game in promoting the county.  Otherwise we'll be left behind."

Abbate will make recommendations Tuesday to county commissioners based on a consultant’s study that a destination marketing organization be created, either to function under parks and recreation, or have its own division under the county.

"Whoever this goes under is going to have a difficult time because the board is going to be looking for a return on investment," said Abbate.

One proposed way to get more revenue would be to add a fifth cent to the existing bed tax.

Stuart Coffee Company owner Bill Moore isn't the biggest fan of that idea.

"I'm not real big on adding taxes, me personally.  I think we probably have an adequate amount of money to spend, if it's spent properly," said Moore.

Judy Farley knew she made the right investment to open up a boutique in downtown Stuart two years ago.
She says she's seen a steady stream of locals and out-of-towners.

"We see people from Europe.  We see people from the Midwest.  We see people from New England," said Farley.

Businesses are hoping that things will perk up even more, if a good tourism plan is put in place.