tourism

For-profit ‘Florida Tourism Bureau’ sued over $15K defaulted loan

in Local Courts by

A newly formed business called “Florida Tourism Bureau” is facing court action by a creditor who fronted several thousand in startup costs.

The Clearwater company — founded June 2016 by Tim Gahagen and Richard Dawes — is somewhat unusual in that tourism bureaus are traditionally quasi-governmental entities and not outright for-profit businesses.

John Edward Eder, a 55-year-old Margate resident, loaned Gahagen and Dawes $15,000 just one week after the Florida Tourism Bureau was incorporated. The Bureau is located at 300 S. Duncan Ave., Suite 164-A in Clearwater.

The pair promised to pay Eder back within six months, in monthly installments. Filings show that the money was a “friendly” loan, since the agreement shows Eder would not charge the two any interest.

Nevertheless, Eder argues that neither defendant paid back a dime of the loan. He is now seeking relief from the court, filing a suit Dec. 30 in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Pinellas County.

State records show this was not Gahagen’s first foray into the tourism industry.

In 2013, Gahagen founded the Florida Travel and Tourism Bureau, as well as the Florida Tourism Council in 2007. And in 2003, Gahagen incorporated the Orlando Central Tourist Bureau. A cursory search by Baylawsuits.com finds no “meaningful information” about any of the Gahagen companies created over the past two years.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.