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Tourism continues upward trend

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

While October is considered a transition month in the Island tourism industry, it’s difficult to make that assertion when recent tourism figures show visitor arrivals in the Bradenton area for October 2011 were up 12 percent from the same month last year.

Research Data Services Inc., the Tampa company that compiles tourism data for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, reported the October figures at the Manatee County Tourist Development Council’s Dec. 12 meeting in Holmes Beach.

RDS said 32,600 people visited the BACVB area in October 2011 compared with 29,100 for October 2010.

October’s tourism increase put year-to-date arrivals at 422,600, a 10.9 percent rise from the 381,230 recorded through the first 10 months of last year.

RDS also presented its quarterly tourism report to the TDC and said the total economic impact of tourism to the BACVB area through the first nine months of 2011 was $431.6 million, up 7 percent from the $403.3 million impact reported through September 2010.

The top five attributes given by October visitors for their area stay were, in order, beautiful beaches; clear, blue water; sunning on the beach; good food and restaurants; and a clean, unspoiled environment. Other top attributes included value for money, safe destination and family-friendly, reasonably priced accommodations.

Resort tax collections also rise

As tourism increased 12 percent in October, collections of the tourist development tax — also known as the resort tax and bed tax — also rose, and at a higher percentage than tourism.

The Manatee County resort tax collection office reported collections of $337,969 in October 2011, a 17.7 percent gain from the $287,636 taken in for October 2010.

For November 2011, the increase in collections was even greater, climbing 27 percent compared with November 2010.

The office reported November 2011 collections at $385,177 compared with $306,567 for November 2010.

The tourist development tax is the 5 percent charged on all rental accommodations of six months or less in Manatee County.

Revenue from the tax is used for the BACVB budget, including beach renourishment projects and other tourist-related activities.

Sue Sinquefield of the resort tax office said better collection methods and streamlined efforts to locate and receive past-due or unpaid resort tax payments have contributed to the surge in collections.

The office collected slightly more than $7 million in tourist taxes for fiscal year 2010-11, a record year for collections.

And bed tax collections are a good indication of tourism, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said.

Although RDS did not have November’s visitor report, with resort tax collections up 27 percent, that’s a “fairly good indication” of a tourism increase for November, Brockman said.

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