Sunday, June 24, 2018
Business

Pinellas County tourism enjoyed record visitors, economic impact in 2012

Pinellas County tourism in 2012 can be summed up in three words: Best. Year. Ever.

The county had a record number of visitors, including a record number of first-time visitors, who generated a record economic impact. That's according to Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, the county agency responsible for promoting Pinellas tourism.

But the news is even better than that to the agency's director, D.T. Minich. Why? The gains were seen across the board — European and domestic visitors, room rates and hotel occupancy levels — signaling that most tourism sectors did well in 2012.

"Every market was up, and that's typically not the case," Minich said. "You'll see one market up and one market down. But for every single market to be up is huge.

"That means we're getting market share across the board. We're not gaining it in one way and losing it in another."

A record 5,435,000 people visited Pinellas County in 2012, according to Research Data Services Inc. That's 200,000 more people, or 4 percent more people than visited in 2011. That also includes 1.1 million first-time visitors to Pinellas' beaches, another new record.

Room rates rose by 8 percent in 2012, the agency said, nearly doubling the rise in statewide average room prices of 4 percent. Occupancy was also strong, 70 percent in the Pinellas area compared to 65 percent in the rest of the state.

The estimated economic impact of tourism in 2012 was valued at $7.8 billion. That's $521 million more than Pinellas tourism generated in 2011, setting another new record for the county.

Pinellas County had already reported that it collected a record $28.7 million in bed tax revenue in the previous fiscal year, which ended in September 2012. But that was for the fiscal year. The 2012 tourism numbers are for the calendar year, and paint a much richer picture of the state of the county's tourism industry, Minich said.

"The bed tax is kind of the bottom line," he said. "But this is more in-depth as to who came, where they came from, the strength of the markets, those kinds of things."

There was no one factor that led to the record year, Minich said, not even the Republican National Convention held Aug. 27-30. Pent-up demand for vacations as the economy improved and a continued focus on marketing the area to Europe were also key.

Florida tourism also enjoyed a record 2012. There were a record 89.3 million visitors last year, or a rise of 2.3 percent, according to the state's tourism marketing arm Visit Florida.

Meanwhile Pinellas bed tax revenue kept growing in the first four months of the current fiscal year. From October to January, the county collected $7.6 million, a 12 percent increase.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.

+200,000

Increase in visitors to Pinellas in 2012 over 2011

+8%

Increase in room rates, doubling rise in statewide average prices

+$521M

Increase in economic impact of tourism in 2012 over 2011

Comments
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 3 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Published: 06/24/18
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Published: 06/22/18
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA ó The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Published: 06/22/18
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Hereís an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the worldís electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Published: 06/22/18
Brink: Why have Floridaís working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Floridaís working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Floridaís otherwise rosy job numbers, one thatís been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Published: 06/22/18
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG ó For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

TAMPA ó When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nationís housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18