Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

A record July keeps Pinellas tourism boom going in 2013

TAMPA — The tourism boom continues unabated in Pinellas County, setting the stage for what could be another record year of tourist development bed tax collections.

First, the latest good news: Pinellas collected $2.86 million in July, the best July ever. That's a 9 percent increase, or $247,000 more than the $2.6 million from July 2012.

A successful July 2013 marked 24 straight months of tourist tax growth. In other words, for 24 months in a row, the amount collected beat what was earned the same month the year before.

All this means Pinellas could enjoy a second straight year of record bed tax receipts. In the first 10 months of fiscal year 2013, Pinellas has collected nearly $28 million. That's very close to the all-time collection record of $28.75 million in fiscal year 2012. In fact, Pinellas need only garner $1.66 million in the last two months to set a new record.

But the county will need to do it without the Republican National Convention, a massive event that boosted last year's August 2012 numbers.

David Downing, the deputy director of Pinellas tourism agency Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, credited two factors for the county's ongoing tourism boom: the economic recovery — or the perception of a recovery — freeing up pent-up demand for travel; and summer is turning into a kind of second tourism season for Pinellas County, after the peak winter period.

For years, hoteliers kept rates low just to attract summer business. That's no longer the case. It helps that Pinellas focused its summer marketing to get locals to hit the beaches. The top feeder market in July was the Orlando region. Tampa Bay was second.

"When we see demand like this in what has traditionally been a softer demand time of year," Downing said, "that gives us an indication that the product itself, the destination itself, is growing. It's growing because more people are seeing us at more times of the year than before."

Across the bay, Hillsborough County is seeing a slight dip in tourist bed tax collections this past summer. The county collected about $1.5 million in tourist development tax in July. But that was a 4 percent, or $64,000, drop from July 2012.

The first 10 months of Hillsborough's fiscal year 2013 bed tax collections are still running 3 percent above last fiscal year's numbers, however. The Tampa side of the bay has collected $19.75 million so far in fiscal year 2013. That's just $1.28 million away from matching the $21 million Hillsborough garnered in fiscal year 2012.

In Pinellas and Hillsborough, the tourist development tax is a 5 percent surcharge tacked on to the bill of every hotel room and short-term rental to promote tourism.

Comments
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Published: 12/15/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17