TAMPA BAY - Big changes are coming to Tampa International Airport, hopefully giving people more of what they want when passing through. "One of our goals with this is to create a real sense of place at the airport, and a sense that you are in Tampa, you are in Florida," T.I.A. Spokesperson Janet Zink said.
To do that, T.I.A. plans to revamp where you eat, drink, and shop by hiring multiple concessionaires.
Since 1971, only one company picked the businesses that call T.I.A. home. Come September 2015 that contract expires with HMS Host. "It's an old school kind of thing to only have one person, one company doing that," Janet said.
Beginning in the spring the airport will start considering proposals, then awarding contracts by the end of 2014. "We'll probably have about, somewhere between eight and 12 companies out here," Janet said.
The plan is to have a majority of the new businesses open by 2017. "We think that this program will probably increase our revenues by about 31-percent," Janet said.
Right now the airport estimates that each person that comes through the doors spends about an average of $10.00 inside at shops and stores. Come 2017 when this plan is in place, they hope that spending limit increases by $3.00 to $13.00 per person.
It seems like everyone has their own suggestions as to what they would like to see land at T.I.A.
"Massage chairs would be good. An interesting thing to have an option in between flights so you don't get kinked up on a flight," Janet Sussman said. She was visiting a friend in Tampa.
"I would love to see a seafood restaurant. That would be great," frequent flyer Tanya Drumm said.
T.I.A. hopes to attract more local businesses as well, giving the airport it's own Tampa flavor and giving travelers a unique reason to want to come back.