Saturday, July 21, 2018
Business

Hillsborough’s record hotel revenue makes it ‘high-impact’ tourism destination

TAMPA — Hillsborough County generated more than $600 million in hotel revenue last year, making it one of just nine counties to pass the threshold for becoming a "high-impact" tourism destination in Florida.

With the designation, the county is now allowed to raise the tax on overnight stays from 5 percent to 6 percent.

"We haven’t added Harry Potter over here, we haven’t added Star Wars, and we haven’t built any beaches that I’m aware of," Santiago Corrado, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, said in announcing the news on Monday. "Yet, we were able to accomplish this substantial growth."

The county generated about $644 million in taxable hotel revenue last year — or about $700 million before taxes.

That sent bed-tax revenue past Visit Tampa Bay’s $30 million goal at $32.3 million — an 8 percent increase compared to 2016. Pinellas County beat the same threshold in 2014.

Read more:Tampa Bay is enjoying a hotel boom. Could a five-star be coming?

Corrado said Hillsborough boasted record-breaking hotel stay numbers nearly every month of 2017. January, especially, when the College National Football Championship drew thousands of Clemson and Alabama fans to Tampa. Hotel revenue was up 36 percent that month compared to January of 2016.

Previous coverage: Water Street Tampa’s new 519-room hotel expected to help Tampa pursue more upscale conventions

April and June did not break any records, but Corrado said they were still steady months. Each had only a small percentage dip in hotel revenue compared to 2016.

The consistent growth comes ahead of the areas first hotel boom since the 1990s — like an anticipated 500 rooms tied to the planned Water Street Tampa development on the edge of downtown.

Lou Plasencia, CEO of Tampa’s The Plasencia Group hotel sales and consulting firm, said the demand for the new rooms is there — and the Water Street development will only help it grow.

"The community has also developed on its own," Plasencia said. "Hillsborough has become a very attractive, walkable area. You may not have beaches, but you have a downtown that really matured."

Visit Tampa Bay set the goal to surpass $30 million in collected bed tax money five years ago.

STR, Inc., which tracks hotel market data, estimates revenue per available room in Tampa Bay grew 30 percent, compared to 18 percent for the entire state, in that time period.

The other counties considered "high-impact destinations" outside of Tampa Bay are:

Miami-Dade, Volusia, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, and Broward counties.

Tampa has focused its pull on large-scale events and conventions, while also promoting its pedestrian-focused Riverwalk and burgeoning speciality bar and restaurant scene.

"My firm works all over the country," Plasencia said. "It’s nice to see it coming together in our own community. It’s about time."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

Comments
He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

After a man last Thursday approached the checkout at a Home Depot in Albany, New York, staff member Maurice Rucker asked him to leash his dog. That’s when the man exploded.Rucker, a 60-year-old black man, claimed he was fired Tuesday after defending ...
Published: 07/21/18
Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. To have them talk more face-to-face. To get them off instant messenger and spontaneously brainstroming about new ideas.But a recent study by two researche...
Published: 07/21/18
Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School board chair Rene Flowers was fired up Friday. She talked about growing up in Jordan Park, the city’s first public housing project and a sentimental and historic marker of St. Petersburg’s African-American commu...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida has not stopped paying the SunPass contractor responsible for the tolling system’s outage, even after transportation officials said the state would suspend all payments.In a letter on Monday, FDOT secretary Mike Dew said the state would not p...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport was ranked this week as the 10th safest U.S. airport to go online without being hacked, but the ranking is not only about the place, but also about how savvy its travelers are.The data security firm Coronet ranked ...
Published: 07/20/18
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Published: 07/20/18

State record of $321 million in unclaimed property back to residents and businesses

More than $321 million was returned to Florida residents and businesses from the state’s unclaimed property in the past fiscal year.Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis took office in July 2017 and said this year’s total broke last year’s rec...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday. In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Published: 07/20/18