It certainly isn’t news to us that business is boomin’ in the area, and a new set of numbers released this week highlight just how popular our little slice of paradise has become. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater shared new tourism data from the last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2022-Sept. 30, 2023), and the numbers show more than $1 billion in impact just on hotels alone.
The big number from the report is the nearly $1.1 billion generated in local hotel revenue throughout the area over the course of 12 months, an increase of $30 million from the previous fiscal year and a jump of $200 million from 2019. And that’s just hotels. Factoring in motels, RVs and online vacation rentals, destination accommodations totaled more than $1.6 billion last year, an astounding number.
To meet that $1 billion+ threshold, St. Pete/Clearwater recorded nearly six million hotel room occupancies over the course of the year, again an increase as it bested the previous year by more than 100,000 and topped 2019 by nearly 220,000.
Of course, what’s important to those of us who live here is how those numbers affect local businesses, projects and development. As we’ve noted before, tourism is the biggest single economic driver in Pinellas County, and in 2022 alone, visitors spent $6.7 billion in the county, on everything from hotels and restaurants to museums, sporting events, souvenirs, and scooter rentals.
Key among the impacts is the trickle-down effect of businesses and individuals being supported by that spending, accounting for more than 100,000 jobs every year on its own. But then, of course, is the hotel bed tax, which funds projects throughout the county that relate to tourism, but are often for the betterment of locals, too.
The bed tax is a 6% tax on all short-term accommodation rentals, the dollars from which must be assigned to projects that will support tourism. Visitor-generated taxes are currently funding emergency shoreline restoration and forthcoming beach renourishment, as well as big projects such as Pinellas County’s contribution to the new Tampa Bay Rays Stadium.
From Spring Training stadiums, including the Toronto Blue Jays stadium in Dunedin, to annual events we know and love like Sanding Ovations and St. Pete Pride, tourism provides funding to keep our area a diverse place to live and work. As The Dali Museum expands, it is able to do so thanks to taxes paid by visitors – not to mention the revenue the museum receives directly from visitors buying tickets, which in turn allows them to offer educational programs for local students.
Learn more about tourism’s impact in St. Pete and the entire county here.