Tourist and Cultural Development

Overview

Why Develop Tourism?

Tourism is one of St. Johns County’s (SJC) primary economic engines. But you don’t have to own a tourism business or even be employed directly in the county’s tourism industry to benefit from the money visitors spend while they are here.

Tourist Development Tax Revenue, levied on overnight stays of less than six months, are utilized to support the 42 miles of white sandy beaches in SJC by providing funding support for beach cleanups, dune walkover repairs, beachside park improvements, boat ramp maintenance and beach renourishment projects in St. Johns County.

Been to a concert at the Amphitheatre? A festival in your neighborhood? A historic reenactment? How about a performance by one of our local professional theatre groups, the community opera, orchestra, or community chorus? The revenue generated by visitors to St. Johns County also help to financially support these programs which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Visitors, not residents, even pay for the county’s advertising and promotional efforts to entice visitors to come back again. All of the County’s tourist development programs are paid for by tourist.

Continuing to develop Tourism in St. Johns County benefits everyone and tourism in St. Johns County continues to grow. According to a study completed by Downs & St. Germain Research in 2022, visitors spend approximately $2.4 billion in St. Johns County each year which is more than three times as much as the $712 million visitors were spending annually ten plus years prior.

Tourism Development Funding

Funding

Per Florida Statute, 125.0104, St. Johns County is eligible for and levies 5 cents of Tourist Development Tax, commonly referred to as “bed tax” on all short-term rentals for resorts, hotels, motels, privately owned homes, condominiums, apartments or campground spaces with a duration of six months or less. The bed tax was initially levied by St. Johns County Ordinance 86-72 with the 5th cent of tax levied by Ordinance 2021-43.

Renting to Visitors & the Tourist Development Tax

Have a private home, condominium, or other type of accommodations that you rent or want to rent to visitors? Here’s a link to the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office to help you get started with information about collecting and remitting the Tourist Development Tax.

Tourism is one of St. Johns County’s primary economic engines.

Visitors are spending more than $2.4 billion in St. Johns County annually.

Revenue generated by visitors help financially support programs and attractions which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Partners

Contact

Tera Meeks Tourism and Cultural Development Director
Dena Masters TDC Program Specialist
Jennifer Zuberer Manager of Tourism Promotional Programs

Angela Cuozzo Tourism Development Specialist

Services

FAQs

Renting to Visitors & the Tourist Development Tax

Have a private home, condominium, or other type of accommodations that you rent or want to rent to visitors? Here’s a link to the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office to help you get started with information about the Tourist Development Tax.

How Revenue is Collected

Taxes are collected by the St. Johns County Tax Collector. Initially, the revenues were collected by the State of Florida which charged a six percent (6%) collection fee. In 1988, the County adopted a Resolution transferring the collection responsibilities to the County Tax Collector; at which time the collection fee became two percent (2%).

Who is responsible for ensuring the revenues are properly spent?

The Tourist Development Council has initial responsibility for the funds. They make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on which projects should be funded and in what amount. Funding proposals are to be submitted to the Tourist Development Council for review and recommendation before action by County staff or consideration by the Board of County Commissioners. The Clerk of the Court is the county chief financial officer and has pre-audit responsibilities for all the Tourist Development Council expenditures. The final authority for the revenues and expenditures rests with the Board of County Commissioners.

Who serves on the Tourist Development Council?

Florida Statute 125.0104 requires a nine member Tourist Development Council, and also states how the member are chosen. One member is from the County Commission. Two other elected officials also serve, one of whom must represent the most populous municipality in the county. Three members must be owners or operators of lodging facilities and must collect the tax. Three members must in involved in the tourist industry and have demonstrated a general interest in tourist development, but cannot be owners or operators of a lodging facility.

The statute further provides for four year terms. Equal representation should be accorded the greater St. Augustine area, the St. Augustine Beach/Crescent Beach area, and Ponte Vedra Beach when selected lodging industry representatives for the board. (See Exhibit A for a list of Council members.) The Statute further provides for four year terms. In 1990, the Tourist Development Council set policy that members may serve only one four-year term and the term’s expiration dates be extended from June 6 to September 30.

In the event the member is appointed chair, the member may serve up to six years. In the event a vacancy occurs, the Board of County Commissioners solicits resumes for appointment. Notification of openings will be provided by the Tourist Development Council to local tourism industry trade groups.

When and where are Tourist Development Council meetings held?

The Tourist Development Council is required by the authorizing legislation to meet at least four times per year, but has chosen to meet monthly. The meetings are generally held on the third Monday of every other month in the County Auditorium at 500 San Sebastian View at 1:30 p.m. Notices of meeting dates and times are furnished to members of the media well in advance of scheduled meetings. TDC Meetings

Staffing

The Tourist Development Council began the program in 1986 with no staff. In 1990, the Tourist Development Council hired an Office Specialist II to assist in administrative matters. The office specialist serves as an employee of the County Administrator. In 1992, the Tourist Development Council hired an Executive Director. The Executive Director is an employee of the County reporting to the County Administrator but receives direction from and implements policy for the Tourist Development Council. Funds for staffing come from each category on a prorated basis.

Development of Policies

The Tourist Development Council develops policies and procedures for approval by the Board of County Commissioners. Input from the public is encouraged at all times.

How Revenue is Allocated

The St. Johns County Commission has set by ordinance (#92-32) the division of funds on a 40-30-30 basis with forty percent (40%) going to advertising and promotion, thirty percent (30%) going to culture and special events, and thirty percent (30%) going to beaches and recreation. Ordinance 92-32 further stipulates that the 40-30-30 split of tax revenues cannot be changed without a referendum election. The final 1% of tax added in 1991 is designated for advertising and is added to the 40% allocated to Category I. History had shown that a number of organizations applied for funds which the grants panel found to be worthy, but could not legitimately label some events as cultural. Direct promotion and advertising is referred to as Category I. Culture and special events are referred to as Category II, and recreation, beaches, and related facilities is referred to as Category III.