FORT WALTON BEACH — The Florida State Harley-Davidson Group has decided to bring its annual fall rally back to the Emerald Coast.
The area was a leading contender for the event, which will take place primarily at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island in October 2013. H.O.G. members selected Okaloosa County last weekend at its 2012 rally in Lake County.
“We sent a contingent down there and won the pitch,” said Dan O’Byrne, director of the county’s tourism development department.
The rally was held in Destin in 2010 and 2011.
O’Byrne and the Tourist Development Council also have gotten approval from county commissioners to provide the H.O.G with a $25,000 sponsorship. Commissioners did not discuss the expenditure before approving it at their meeting Tuesday.
“I think it met the (county’s) standards,” Commissioner Wayne Harris said after the meeting.
Harris said he made inquiries about the event and the sponsorship and “was satisfied with what the TDC was doing.”
Commission Chairman Don Amunds agreed.
“It obviously brings business into the area,” said Amunds, who added that the sponsorship was a reasonable amount to spend.
H.O.G. Rally organizers estimate the event will draw 2,500 visitors and generate 4,625 room nights at local hotels.
If the organization meets that projection, the sponsorship will increase to $30,000.
O’Byrne said the H.O.G. Rally will come during the crucial shoulder season when the area needs large events.
“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “I want to do more. … I think as we begin to look at off-season business, we’re going to have to work very tactically.”
O’Byrne said he and his staff soon will begin meeting with local hoteliers to discuss the rally.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow at 850-315-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KariBnwfdn.