PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Good news for the biggest industry in Tampa Bay: Tourism numbers are shattering records in Pinellas County.
Visit St. Pete Clearwater says Pinellas County is expected to bring in $60 million in bed tax collections this year, which is a new record.
Newly released May numbers show a nearly 7% spike in visitors and an 8% spike in revenue this year versus last. 100 out of the past 106 months, Visit St. Pete Clearwater says they've seen a boost in tourism.
Tony Satterfield, the General Manager of Alden Suites in St. Pete Beach says it makes him happy, especially after dealing with red tide scaring away visitors in 2018. "I'm really happy. If I never have to hear the words red tide again, I'll be thrilled."
Hotels owners across Pinellas County tell ABC Action News they are relieved.
"We were going 5 years strong setting new records, then 2018 came along and took the wind out of our sails. But it’s been a breath of fresh air to see what’s happening in 2019,” Keith Overton, the General Manager of Tradewinds Island Grand explained.
It's not just the hotels seeing an increase. Eateries like Larry's Ice Cream Shop, a 50-year staple on St. Pete Beach, says they're slammed too. “We have a line out the door for at least 75 people at night,” said owner Dore Herman.
What's good for tourism is good for all of us! It's the reason we don’t pay a state tax in Florida. Visit St. Pete Clearwater estimates we each save an average of $740 a year on taxes. Tourism also employs 1 out of every 10 people in Pinellas County, according to Visit St. Pete Clearwater.
Visit St. Pete Clearwater leaders say the record $50 million bed tax will go a long way towards renourishing our beaches, upgrading our attractions and continuing to market our gorgeous coast across the globe.