Visit Tampa Bay is banking on Hillsborough County hotels bringing in $1 billion by 2025 with its new “Billion Bound” campaign.
The new goal would require hotel stays to grow 6 percent every year over the next five years, according to the tourism bureau. For the calendar year of 2019, Hillsborough County hotels reported about $756 million in revenue. The tourism agency reported $35.4 million in tax receipts for the fiscal year, 5 percent more than the prior year.
Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago C. Corrada said if hotels were to reach that $1 billion benchmark it would mean added revenue to every business the tourism industry touches.
“Hotel revenue is important because it shows we have people coming in and staying in the area," Corrada said. “But it’s all that additional spending we’re really interested in. The $1 billion in lodging is only part of the story.”
Thousands of new hotel rooms are being added to Hillsborough County’s inventory. The upcoming 26-story JW Marriott in the Water Street development near the Amalie Arena will add 519 rooms alone. Several hotels are racing toward grand openings ahead of Super Bowl 55 in Tampa next year, but plans for the new buildings were in the works before Tampa landed the big game.
“Growing revenue is what lead to new hotels coming in to town,” Corrada said. “The Super Bowl is now an accelerator. They want to cash in on the Super Bowl, but it’s not the reason they’re under construction.”
Hillsborough has spent the last several years marketing itself as a destination for sporting events — big and small — as well as conventions and conferences.
The last time Visit Tampa Bay had a similar goal was back in 2014 when it called for “30 in three," which meant $30 million in tourism tax revenue in three years.
The county tracks how much visitors are spending on overnight stays because it charges a 6 percent tourism tax on every hotel room bill. A billion dollars worth of overnight stays would mean about $60 million in collected taxes.
Pinellas County’s tourism bureau, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, hit that $1 billion benchmark in 2019. It has the same 6 percent tourism tax.
In 2017, Visit Tampa Bay hit its $30 million tax goal — or $500 million in hotel revenue. At that point the tax rate was only 5 percent. Hitting that threshold allowed for the county to raise the tax rate by another 1 percent, which it did last year.
The county that uses that money to pay for construction projects and continue marketing the destination to travelers.
On average, about 21 percent of what travelers spend in total is on lodging, according to the the U.S. Travel Association. They spend even more on eating out.
The $1 billion in hotel revenue in Hillsborough County could lead to $1.5 billion in recreation spending, another $1.3 billion for food and beverage, and $570 million on transportation, Corrada said.