If you’re an island resident who thinks this winter-spring tourist season is one of the busiest ever, there are figures to back you up.
The Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax collection division reports its collections continue at a record pace, with $1.232 million taken in for February, an increase of 10.8 percent from the $1.112 million collected in February 2013.
The resort tax — officially the Manatee County Tourist Development Tax — is the 5 percent collected on rentals of six months or less.
For each of the past three years, tourism to Anna Maria Island and resort tax collections increased proportionately.
Resort tax collections for 2012-13 were $8.99 million, up 10.99 percent from 2011-12 collections. At the same time, tourism to the area climbed 6.5 percent that year, according to surveys provided to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau by Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa.
The $1.23 million collected in February brought the total of resort tax collections to $4.08 million for the first five months of the fiscal year. That’s a 15.6 percent year-to-year rise over the $3.548 million taken in the same period of the 2013-14 fiscal year.
At the Manatee County Tourist Development Council meeting April 21, Walter Klages of RDS was set to present the latest tourism figures developed by his company. The meeting was held after The Islander press deadline.
In his February presentation to the TDC, Klages said tourism was up 6.5 percent from January 2013.
The continuing rise of tourism and resort tax collections was good news for Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman.
“We’ve passed the stage where we have big lulls in tourism. Now, we have spring, summer, fall and winter seasons. We’ve really become known as the place for the old Florida vacation,” she said.
Brockman credited chamber members and advertising by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for keeping “heads in beds” and improving business on Anna Maria Island year-round.
The three island cities and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key collect about 62 percent of the resort tax, with Holmes Beach annually taking in about 25 percent of all resort tax collections in the county.
The resort tax is used to fund the county’s portion of beach renourishment, the BACVB, the Powel Crosley Estate and other tourist-related county projects.
Bradenton Beach will receive up to $1 million in matching funds from the resort tax for a renovation project planned to start in April-May for the Historic Bridge Street Pier.