Growth of key tourism indicator shows strength of local market
TAMPA (Nov. 21, 2014) – Tampa and Hillsborough County posted double-digit growth in hotel occupancy for October, topping their competitors in the tourism industry for the month.
Occupancy in October rose 11.2 percent compared to October 2013, reaching 68.3 percent this year. The pace was faster than 10 other destinations with which Tampa Bay competes for both tourism and convention business – a list that includes Orlando and Fort Lauderdale; Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth in Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Charlotte, N.C.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Nashville, Tenn.
Charlotte’s occupancy grew 10.3 percent year-over-year in October, putting in second place. Orlando was third at 10.1 percent.
October was the second time this calendar year that Tampa Bay led its competitors in the growth of a key indicator of travel-industry health. In August – the month more than 20,000 Prince Hall Shriners filled downtown — Tampa Bay was No. 1 in the growth of revenue hoteliers earned per room, according to figures collected by Smith Travel Research.
“The numbers show what a tremendous year we’ve had and continue to have in Tampa Bay tourism,” said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “As we expand our reach across the U.S., Latin America and Europe, add new hotels to our mix and bring more events to the area, even more people are going to discover the treasures we have here in Tampa Bay.”
Tampa Bay was chosen this week to host the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four. Thanks to the work of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the region is already scheduled to host the 2015 Women’s Final Four, the 2016 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four and the 2017 college football National Championship game.
For most of this calendar year – and for all of the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 – Tampa Bay outpaced all but one of its competitors in key hotel-industry indicators. The region was second behind Charlotte in the growth of hotel occupancy and second behind Nashville in average daily rates and per-room revenues.
The region slipped to third place for the month of October after room rates jumped sharply in Austin. But Tampa Bay remains second to Nashville in per-room revenue for the calendar year.
Tampa Bay’s ranking versus its competitors reflects the record year in tourism the region has experienced. Hillsborough County ended its 2014 fiscal year with a record-setting $23.7 million in hotel bed taxes. The region also set records for hotel occupancy and hotel revenues during the fiscal year.
So far this calendar year, total hotel revenues are running nearly 16 percent higher than the same period in 2013, according to Smith Travel. Demand for rooms is up 7.4 percent while the supply of hotel rooms is largely flat.
Corrada and the Visit Tampa Bay board of directors have set a goal of reaching $30 million in hotel bed taxes by 2018. Doing so will boost Hillsborough County into the ranks of the state’s eight high-impact tourism counties. That would make the county eligible to raise its bed tax from 5 percent to 6 percent.
The bed tax, also known as the Tourism Development Tax, is levied on short-term accommodations. The money goes to promote the destination, support events and maintain the Tampa Convention Center, Raymond James Stadium and Amalie Arena.
ABOUT VISIT TAMPA BAY
Visit Tampa Bay leads the effort of economic development through tourism. The mission of Visit Tampa Bay is to create vibrant economic growth for the Tampa Bay area by selling and promoting the Tampa Bay destination. The independent not-for-profit organization represents more than 700 businesses throughout the area and works to ignite interest for Visiting Tampa Bay.