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Date of Issue: September 27, 2007

Businesses pleased: tourism up more than 25 percent

Tourism figures just released by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau confirm that Anna Maria Island experienced a tourism boom in August (The Islander, Sept. 19).

Thanks largely to the additional two weeks of summer vacation Florida public school students had this year, the CVB reported that occupancy rates on the Island climbed from 40.2 percent in August 2006 to 50.7 percent for the same month this year, a 26.1 percent increase.

The upswing in tourism affected the entire CVB reporting area, as the August 2007 figures showed an increase in occupancy from the same month last year throughout Manatee County of 7.1 percent. The CVB reported overall occupancy for August 2007 stood at 51.5 percent compared with just 44.4 percent for August 2006.

The average daily rate for the entire CVB survey area held fairly steady through August 2007 as the CVB reported only a modest $1.35 increase, climbing from $116 per day in August 2006 to $117.35 for August of this year.

CVB marketing director Susan Estler said the CVB is “extremely pleased” with the figures and plans to continue to lobby the Florida Legislature to ensure the start date of Florida schools remains in the latter half of August.

Since 2000, Florida public schools were mandated by the Legislature to start classes immediately following the first week of August, instead of the traditional school start of the day after Labor Day.

The measure essentially eliminated two weeks of summer vacation, a time when Florida families traditionally took vacations at beaches such as Anna Maria Island.