Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Record-setting months result in record-setting year for Pinellas tourist tax revenue

CLEARWATER — Months of record bed-tax collections in Pinellas add up to a record-setting year for the county's tourist development tax.

Pinellas County collected $28.7 million in tourist tax revenue during fiscal year 2011, the county's Tourist Development Council announced at Wednesday's monthly meeting. The fiscal year started in October 2011 and ended in September 2012.

The tax is a 5 percent surcharge tacked onto the bill of every accommodation rented out for less than six months. This year's record is 9 percent more than the previous record: $26.4 million collected in 2008.

The record year ended on another record month: Pinellas collected $1.7 million in tourist tax in September 2012, which is 14 percent more than the same month last year. It's also the county's best September on record.

"If anyone would like to clap," said David Downing, deputy director of Pinellas' tourism agency, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, "I think this would be an appropriate time."

It surprised tourism officials that September, a traditionally slow month for visitors, set another record. No one expected business to remain so strong after the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa in August.

"(September) was the exclamation point at the end of the year," Downing said.

Tourism officials believe the success of Pinellas tourism is owed to the improvement in the economy. Domestic travelers have finally started to take vacations again, Downing said. That, and the continued strength of European visitors, have helped fuel record numbers for Pinellas tourism this past fiscal year.

A consultant also told the TDC that Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into New York at the end of October, has so far had no discernible effect on tourism from that area.

New York is one of the key domestic markets for Pinellas tourism, and the TDC specifically targets the area with an annual ad campaign.

"To date, we have seen virtually no impact at all," said Walter Klages of Research Data Services, who compiles visitor data for the TDC. "We have not found cancellations of any significance so far."

Klages warned that there were early signs of a softening of winter travel from New York, but said it was too early to know for sure.

In fact, in September, the New York area rose to become the No. 2 domestic market for Pinellas tourism after placing third last year. No. 1 is Tampa-St. Petersburg itself. The old No. 2 fell to No. 3: Orlando.

Why are two of Pinellas' top domestic markets both within Florida? Officials said that when bay area and Orlando residents want to hit the beaches for the weekend, they choose Pinellas' beaches.

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

Comments
Armed Forces History Museum collection has a new home, but new owner is a mystery

Armed Forces History Museum collection has a new home, but new owner is a mystery

LARGO — The contents of the Armed Forces History Museum have been sold, but no one is ready to talk about the future of the collection of military memorabilia.A collector named John Piazza used his personal collection to start the public museum, whic...
Published: 04/24/18
Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — The 750-foot-long Ireland, one of the biggest cargo vessels ever to call at Port Tampa Bay, arrived Sunday.The Ireland is on its inaugural voyage, having left a shipyard in China for a stop in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula to pick up 64,865 shor...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa marks the start of construction Tuesday on its first building, the posh JW Marriott hotel, but there’s a lot more to come.And soon.Within a year, developers said Monday, construction should be underway on 10 — 10! — of Wate...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Sears in Clearwater’s Countryside Mall to close in mid-July

Sears in Clearwater’s Countryside Mall to close in mid-July

CLEARWATER — The Westfield Countryside Mall Sears will close in mid-July as part of Sears Holdings’ latest store cuts, bringing the number of shuttering Kmarts and Sears to nearly 200.The store’s liquidation sale will begin on Friday, according to Se...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa draws praise, criticism at penalty hearing

Foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa draws praise, criticism at penalty hearing

CLEARWATER — Homeowners from as far away as Texas and North Carolina crowded a Pinellas County courtroom Monday in support of embattled foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa. Facing possible disbarment for professional misconduct, Stopa also drew s...
Published: 04/23/18
Tampa workers accuse General Dynamics unit of underpaying

Tampa workers accuse General Dynamics unit of underpaying

TAMPA — The Tampa call center of a federal contractor is being accused of underpaying its employees. Workers for General Dynamics Information Technology filed wage theft complaints with the Department of Labor Monday, calling for an investigation int...
Published: 04/23/18
With lights from Toys R Us dimmed, sales plunge at Hasbro

With lights from Toys R Us dimmed, sales plunge at Hasbro

Associated PressNEW YORK — With its sales falling due to the liquidation of Toys R Us, Hasbro is looking for new places to sell Monopoly, My Little Pony and its other toys. Hasbro said Monday it will rely more on online sales, although it has also be...
Published: 04/23/18
Sears’ biggest shareholder offers to buy Kenmore brand

Sears’ biggest shareholder offers to buy Kenmore brand

Associated PressNEW YORK — Sears’ biggest shareholder appears to be pushing for a breakup of the 125-year-old company that has survived two world wars and the Great Depression. Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert — whose hedge fund has forwarded millions...
Published: 04/23/18
Lucky’s Market hosting job fairs in St. Petersburg ahead of June opening

Lucky’s Market hosting job fairs in St. Petersburg ahead of June opening

ST. PETERSBURG — Job fairs to fill more than 100 jobs open at Tampa Bay’s first Lucky’s Market start this week, the organic grocer announced on Monday. The grocery store, located at 6765 22nd Ave. N, is hosting hiring fairs Monday through Friday unti...
Published: 04/23/18
Swimmer Michael Phelps to headline Crystal Lagoon grand opening Saturday

Swimmer Michael Phelps to headline Crystal Lagoon grand opening Saturday

WESLEY CHAPEL — Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will splash down Saturday at the Crystal Lagoon in Wesley Chapel’s Epperson development.Phelps, a global ambassador for Crystal Lagoons, will appear at the grand opening of the first Crystal Lagoon...
Published: 04/23/18