Jacobs seeks transparency for Visit Orlando

Photo: Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Sentinel by Steven Lemongello

August 29, 2017

Five days after state House Speaker Richard Corcoran vowed a crackdown on Visit Orlando and other tourism agencies, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is calling for the group to change course and disclose details of all major sponsorship agreements when its contract with the county is renewed in 2018.

In addition, Jacobs wants details of the U.S. Tennis Association’s controversial multi-year agreement with Visit Orlando to be released, saying she will ask the USTA to waive the confidentiality agreement Visit Orlando says prevents it from sharing any information on it.

The push comes after Corcoran’s warning Friday that he will demand the same transparency the state has started to mandate for its own tourism agency, Visit Florida, for all local tourism boards.

The public/private Visit Orlando, which received about $51 million in county hotel taxes last year, was one of 12 local agencies to sever ties with Visit Florida once the new rules were in place, including requirements to post all contracts online.

Jacobs, who in the past has deferred comment on Visit Orlando contracts because of the confidentiality agreements, said in a letter to Visit Orlando President George Aguel on Tuesday that “absent the cost of this marketing program, the return on investment is impossible to determine.”

The County Commission in August extended its contract with Visit Orlando for one year until September 2018, spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet said.

Jacobs said the two changes in its next extension will include a full listing of vendors available in the public check registry, adding “any corporate sponsorship agreements” more than $500,000 per year “will be recognized in Visit Orlando’s quarterly reporting process to Orange County.”

Visit Orlando has routinely been vague about marketing expenses such as the June 2014 sponsorship deal with the USTA, which includes hosting receptions at the U.S. Open in New York City. [READ MORE]

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