More toursits, More money, More growth

Posted at 6:21 PM, May 05, 2016

If you've been feeling a little more crowded around Hillsborough lately, you're right... there have been a LOT more visitors here this year.
"When you're from New York, It's great," said Sue Baker, in from Rochester with her family this week.  She told me that Tampa has been a great place to relax and recharge.

"I like it," she continued. "There's a lot for the kids to do. A lot to keep us busy -- the weather's great."

And indeed, things are looking sunny for those who track Tampa's tourists

"Biggest bed-tax collection on record," exclaimed Santiago Corrada, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. "Over $3.5 million in bed-tax collections. That's the five percent on top of what people are paying to stay in town. And it's the highest ever and we've had two consecutive months of over three million dollars collections -- also a first."

And the area's leading tourism booster is touting the awesome April numbers, he is also pointing to positive press like an article recently posted on the travel web-site Orbitz, praising Tampa as one of the 15 hot destinations nobody thought about 15 years ago.

According tot that article -- for a long time -- all Tampa had to offer was Busch gardens, but that's changed.

Now -- it says -- the revitalization of the Curtis Hixon Park gives visitors a place to hang out while Seminole heights is awash in trendy bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

"We've been busy every day," said Sue Baker. "We just went to a great restaurant and then we came here for the kids to play in the water."

With more visitors -- comes more revenue -- like the bed-tax which goes back to help market the region as well as provide places for people to come for big events.

"A lot of our venues receive dollars," said Santiago Corrada. "Steinbrenner Field, Plant City Softball Stadium, The Amalie Arena, Raymond James Stadium."

"Maybe a new Rays Stadium," I chimed in.

"Well, you said it," said Corrada.

If the tourist revenues remain robust, there is a possibility that even more money could come from those bed taxes, to be ear-marked for another major venue like a Rays stadium.

Suffice to say, the folks at Visit Tampa Bay would love to be a part of that discussion.