Island tourism up slightly in August

Occupancy of Island accommodations rose 3.3 percent in August 2010 compared with the same month last year, according to statistics released by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But the increase in Island occupancy was offset for the Bradenton area by a 16.7 percent decline in occupancy of mainland accommodations. The BACVB reported occupancy in that accommodation category at 38.9 percent for August 2010, against a 46.7 percent occupancy rate for August 2009.

Overall occupancy of accommodation units in the BACVB area was reported at 44.5 percent for August 2010. That was a drop of 4.1 percent from the 46.4 percent level in August 2009.

At the same time, the average daily rate of an Island accommodation continued to decline. The ADR for August 2010 was $114.89 compared with $123.35 in August 2009, and $125.30 for the same month in 2008.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said visitors in August were primarily from Florida and southeastern states.

“This was a time when Florida families head to the beach, and it was a very good August,” she said.

August tourism dropped significantly in 2001 after the Florida Legislature mandated all public schools had to finish the first semester by the Christmas holiday period.

That forced schools to open as early as the first week of August and prompted many Florida families to cancel summer vacation plans at the beach, including on Anna Maria Island.

Occupancy of Island accommodations fell to as low as 36 percent in 2003.

But Florida tourism officials lobbied the Legislature to change the law and beginning in 2007, the opening of public schools was delayed two weeks.

In August 2007, the first year after the Legislature moved the school starting date back, occupancy of Island accommodations rose from 40.2 percent to 50.7 percent, a 26.1 percent climb.