Women's Final Four helped Hillsborough set a tourism record

Visitors in April brought $3.3 million in hotel stays, according to the Hillsborough County Tax Collector's Office, much of which came from the 21,000 visitors in town for the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Visitors in April brought $3.3 million in hotel stays, according to the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office, much of which came from the 21,000 visitors in town for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Pictured is a crowd of attendees for a  Final Four game in April. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Visitors in April brought $3.3 million in hotel stays, according to the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office, much of which came from the 21,000 visitors in town for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Pictured is a crowd of attendees for a Final Four game in April. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published June 12

Hillsborough County set new records for tourism in April, with an assist from women’s college basketball.

Visitors in April brought in $3.3 million in tourist taxes, according to the Hillsborough County Tax Collector's Office, up nearly 6 percent from the same month last year. That made April the fourth month of record-breaking tax collections from hotel stays this year, according to Visit Tampa Bay.

The uptick was boosted by the 21,000 visitors in town for the NCAA Women's Final Four tournament, who brought in $16 million in economic impact, Visit Tampa Bay said.

"People start taking notice when you're hosting the Women's Final Four, and then the (Department of Defense) Warrior Games and then (WWE) WrestleMania," said Santiago Corrada, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, referring to other upcoming sporting events. "When that name 'Tampa' keeps resonating, people think, 'Wow, I haven't been to Tampa' or, 'It's been a while,' and then they visit."

April's numbers were also boosted by a T.D. Jakes Ministries event at Tampa Convention Center that Visit Tampa Bay estimates generated $5.6 million for Hillsborough County and drew 9,000 people.

The numbers come on the heels of the Hillsborough County Commission's vote to raise the tourist development tax to 6 percent from 5 percent. It was allowed to raise the tax once Hillsborough County became a "high-impact" tourism destination by generating more than $600 million in hotel revenue.

Visit Tampa Bay expects the trend to continue, as roughly 2,000 hotel rooms are being built over the coming two years.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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