A plan for something to do in Ybor in the daytime

When you talk Tampa tourism, often it's Busch Gardens that rises to the top of the conversation. But Manteiga says there needs to be a change in priorities at the places that promote tourism in Tampa — Tampa Bay & Company and the Tourist Development Council.

Included in the packet of information he presented to YCDC members was a breakdown of annual attendance at art, science and history museums throughout the state. Although several establishments in St. Petersburg crowded the top of such lists, Tampa's Art Museum was in the middle of the pack, with 75,000 annual visitors.

Last fall Manteiga contacted officials at USF about developing heritage tourism resources in Ybor. Their response acknowledged the obvious: that the district "lacks the infrastructure, programming, and coordination to market itself successfully as a tourism destination."

Other Ybor businesspeople agreed with Mantegia that the district needs to reinvent itself for daytime tourism, remarking on how tourist buses will drop people in Centro Ybor at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning when there's absolutely nothing to do.

Don Barco, owner of King Corona Cigars, admitted there are not a lot of places for people to visit in the daytime, saying the district suffers greatly for not having more retail shops.

There appeared to be support for what Manteiga introduced on Tuesday. We'll follow up and see what transpires in the future.

Last summer the Hillsborough County Commission approved $2 million for preservation of Ybor City's most significant buildings: the Italian Club, the Cuban Club and Centro Asturiano, and later received another $2.5 million for other historic preservation areas.

Now what to do with it?

La Gaceta editor and publisher Patrick Manteiga has an idea. Speaking at the monthly Ybor City Development Corporation (YCDC) meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Manteiga advocated for making the area a cultural tourism destination à la Savannah, Charleston or St. Augustine.

"When you look at the pie of our tourism, when you look at historic and cultural tourism, our slice is very small, " Manteiga said, alluding to the fact that aren't any bed and breakfasts in the district. "Tampa just doesn't have what many communities have in great numbers," he lamented.

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