Florida tourism gets boost from BP -- again - FOX 13 News

Florida tourism gets boost from BP -- again

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Visit St. Pete-Clearwater has been awarded a $500,000 grant related to 2010's BP oil spill -- again.

"These were two years in a row where BP correctly decided that there was a perception issue about Gulf seafood, about tourism, that lingers," VSPC's David Downing told FOX 13 News. "This is an attempt to take steps to try to combat that."

Downing credited star-power for netting the top amount of grant money twice.

Last year, "The overriding thought was get as big of a bat as you can, get as big of names as you can, and bring them to the destination to talk about Gulf seafood."

Some of that half million bought an episode of "Emeril's Florida," featuring a visit to Pinellas by celebrity chef Emeril LaGasse. The rest became seed money for "Enjoy Arts and Tastes St. Petersburg," a major food and wine festival scheduled in November.

"It's at a different level than all of the existing festivals," event president Robert Kapusta said. "We're going to be having celebrity chefs coming here that are nationally known, cooking with local food and seafood."

The food fest utilizes celebrity chefs associated with St. Petersburg-based HSN. Events will be held over three days in venues including the Mahaffey Theater and the Dali Museum.

Kapusta was not surprised by the second grant.

"I would think it would be a no-brainer for BP because again, the promotion, the publicity, who's coming here," he said.

The BP award also dovetails with recent strategic marketing by VSPC.

"We're trying to really grow the awareness of culinary tourism," Downing said.

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