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Tourist development tax skyrockets above annual record

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Visitors continued to come to Anna Maria Island in September, usually the slowest month of the year for tourism. The number of visitors raised resort tax collections nearly 20 percent in September 2013 compared with the same month in 2012. Islander File Photo: Rick Catlin

Collections of the tax on accommodations have rocketed to more than 10 percent over the previous year’s record-setting pace in Manatee County.

Manatee County Tourist Development Tax, often called the resort or bed tax, set a record of $8.993 million for the 2013 fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

That amounted to an 11 percent increase over the previous record of $8.101 million set in fiscal year 2011-12.

The resort tax is the 5 percent collected on rentals of six months or less in Manatee County.

Collections for September 2013 were $457,918, a jump of 19.2 percent from the $384,028 collected in September 2012.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said the continuing increase in resort tax collections corresponds to continuing increase in accommodation occupancy and visitor arrivals on Anna Maria Island.

“We seem to be going up in tourism every month, and keeping pace with the resort tax jumps,” Brockman said. “September, which is usually very slow, was very busy for a lots of members.”

Brockman attributed the increase to aggressive marketing of Anna Maria Island by the BACVB and the value-for-dollar that visitors receive for the ambiance of the island.

The resort tax is used to fund the county’s portion of beach renourishment, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Bradenton Area Convention Center, the Powel Crosley Estate and Museum and other public venues in the county.

The latest statistics from the BACVB reported third quarter tourism in the Bradenton area up 6.5 percent for the same nine months in 2012.

Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism website, reported 22.9 million visitors came to the state from July to September, a jump of 1.7 percent from the same period in 2012.

For the year-to-date, Visit Florida said tourism is up 3.4 percent from 2012. Visit Florida reported 72.6 million visitors to the state through the first nine months of 2013.

Manatee County resort tax collections for the fiscal year 2010-11 were $7.1 million. Of the past 13 years, the only drop was 2007-08 when collections were $5 million, which was $200,000 less than 2006-07.

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