Make us your home page
Instagram

RNC propels Hillsborough, Pinellas to record bed tax collections

The last week of August is usually a slow one for local hoteliers. This year, thanks to the Republican National Convention, there was nothing slow or usual about it.

The more than 50,000 delegates, visitors and journalists who descended on Tampa Bay for the RNC generated record bed tax revenue in August for both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, according to figures released by both tax collectors.

Travel industry analysts already declared the RNC a success for bay area hoteliers, who enjoyed record room and occupancy rates during the convention, held Aug. 27 to Sept. 1 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa.

But the bed tax — a 5 percent surcharge tacked onto every hotel bill — is the most concrete measure so far of the RNC's economic impact, said David Downing, deputy director of Pinellas' tourism agency, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

"We have a lot of metrics in this industry," Downing said. "But this is where the rubber meets the road."

It was already a record-setting year for Pinellas County bed tax collections before the RNC. But the convention propelled Pinellas to another record month, collecting $2.2 million in bed tax revenue in August. That's 22 percent more than the same time period last year, making it the best August on record.

That record August propelled total bed tax collections for this fiscal year (October 2011 to September 2012) up to a record $27.1 million, a $1.5 million increase from the year before. August's bed tax numbers are the most current figures available.

That makes 2012 the most prosperous bed tax year in county history, besting 2008's revenue record of $26.4 million — and there's still a month left to be counted this fiscal year.

Hillsborough's hotels enjoyed a similar RNC boost in August, generating $2 million in bed tax revenue. That's a 25 percent jump from August 2011.

It also puts Hillsborough on track to collect the most bed tax revenue in five years. August's figures bring total 2012 bed tax collections up to $21 million with one month left in the fiscal year.

The convention's timing boosted local hotels at just the right time, said Doug McClain, vice president of marketing and communications for Hillsborough's tourism agency, Tampa Bay and Company.

"It's filling a period that is typically slow for us," McClain said. "That's what was so fantastic about this — to go into a month that might be our slowest and just fill it with record demand."

Said Downing: "It didn't displace any business we might have had. It was a pure win."

McClain said his agency is using the RNC to showcase Tampa to meeting planners, hoping to reignite the area's moribund convention business. According to Smith Travel Research Inc., groups made 46 percent of hotel bookings in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market in 2006.

Then the recession hit. By June 2012, group bookings fell to 33.5 percent in Tampa-St. Petersburg. The rest of the bookings were made by families and small groups, a market segment that spends less money.

"We're showing off how we did with the RNC to help book future conventions," McClain said. "We're using it as a case study of how we can pull off a convention of that complexity."

There is hope on both sides of the bay that record bed tax years in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties mean the tourism industry is finally emerging from the downturn.

"Our thinking is," Downing said, "this is what recovery looks like."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3404.

>>Fast facts

Bed tax revenue

Financial year Hillsborough Pinellas

2008 $21.3 million $26.4 million

2009 $18.4 million $24.3 million

2010 $17.5 million $23.8 million

2011 $19.1 million $25.6 million

2012 (year to date) $21 million $27.1 million

RNC propels Hillsborough, Pinellas to record bed tax collections 10/10/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses

    Business

    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa

    Business

    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'

    Business

    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]