Saturday, July 25, 2020

RNC cancellation saves St. Johns County big money but hurts long-term hopes. (SAR)

Did DONALD JOHN TRUMP pay or thank the people who wasted money preparing for his Republican National Convention?  You tell me.  

Cynical St. Augustine Record "spin " for locals who wasted hundreds or thousands of hours preparing for a Republican Coronavirus-19 Convention that was doomed from the start:

By Sheldon Gardner
Posted Jul 24, 2020 at 2:15 PM
St. Augustine Record

For St. Johns County government officials, the cancellation of the Republican National Convention events in Jacksonville is both a disappointment and a major cost savings.

The county was expecting to spend $4 million or more in support of the event, mainly on public safety such as sharing law enforcement and fire rescue resources, said Joy Andrews, deputy county administrator.

County hotels stood to gain $1.83 million from 1,700 hotel rooms booked for the event, which was a conservative estimate from Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the county visitors and convention bureau. The organization markets St. Johns County under a contract with the county government.

Not calculated is the revenue lost from those visitors who would have shopped and dined in St. Johns County, he said.

But county officials were putting bigger hopes on the long-term benefits of new high-profile visitors seeing St. Johns County and potentially visiting again and bringing others with them or relocating their businesses.

“This was the opportunity for us to build some long-term relationships with our new visitors,” Andrews said.

While the county is disappointed at having lost that opportunity, the cost savings is significant and the county understands the decision to cancel the event out of safety concerns, she said.

But the news isn’t all bad, Goldman said.

“The good news is that over the last few weeks, we have been able to get information about the destination into the hands of various delegates and the people that they assign to (do) the advance work for them, and our hopes are that will give them a little appetite to potentially bring their families or businesses to visit St. Johns County,” he said.

The VCB distributed a welcome letter and a travel planner, and published a web page for attendees,

According to Goldman, the VCB spent less than $500 for video editing and a URL purchase. The rest of the work was done in house, he said.

President Donald Trump cited safety concerns when announcing the decision to cancel the convention’s Jacksonville events, and he said it felt wrong to host an event like that during a pandemic, according to the Florida Times-Union.

“We didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.

COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Florida and St. Johns County.

St. Johns County has seen 2,768 COVID-19 cases involving residents, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Friday morning update. There have been 28 positive non-residents and 18 deaths in the county.

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