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February tourism rate, dollars climb

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Evidence of February tourism on Anna Maria Island during February can be found in this photo of numerous beachgoers at the Manatee Public Beach on a sunny day that month, despite the presence of a back-hoe digging up the remnants of the pier that used to stand at the beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Anna Maria Island accommodation managers, owners and rental agents said two weeks ago that their occupancy rates in February 2011 were extremely good and better than figures from last February.

Those assessments turned out to be pretty accurate.

Revenues from resort tax collections in February 2011 were up 1.1 percent against the same month last year, and the latest tourist figures from Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau show a 2.4 percent increase in visitors for February 2011 compared with February 2010.

The RDS report said 50,300 visitors came to the Island and surrounding area in February 2011, while 49,100 were here in February 2010.

Although a 2.4 percent jump might not sound like a major increase, in terms of visitor expenditures the hike was considerable, said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman.

“The increase in visitors relates directly to economic activity, and that jumped several million dollars,” she said.

Visitors to the Island and Longboat Key spent $47.9 million in February 2011, a $2.1 million (4.7 percent increase) jump from the $45.8 million in expenditures reported in February 2010.

Direct impact spending climbed by 4.6 percent, rising from $72.3 million in February 2010 to $75.7 million for February 2011.

The area’s average daily rate for February 2011 was $149.7, up 2.6 percent from the $145.9 figure for the same month in 2010.

Visitors listed the top five attributes of vacationing in the BACVB area as: beautiful beaches, sunning on the beach, a clean environment, a family-friendly atmosphere and value for money.

The report said 82.8 percent of visitors were “very satisfied” with their Island experience. That response was up 6.6 percent from the 77.7 percent approval rate for February 2010. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they would recommend an Island vacation to their friends.

Use of the Web and social networking tools also increased among area visitors. The RDS report said 81.2 percent of all visitors used the Web to book a reservation or gather information about Anna Maria Island. That figure was up 6.1 percent from the 76.6 percent who used the Web in February 2010, the RDS said.

The figures were to be presented at the Manatee County Tourist Development Council meeting April 18 at the Holmes Beach City Hall.

A number of accommodation owners, managers and rental agents said to look for an even larger increase in visitor traffic in March 2011 when compared with the same month in 2010.

With a one-month delay in obtaining tourist arrival information and resort tax collections, visitor and spending figures for March 2011 should be available around May 10.

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