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Date of Issue: September 03, 2008

Island tourism continues upward trend

Anna Maria Island's tourism climb this year continued in July as the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reported occupancy of Island accommodation units increased 1.4 percent from the same month in 2007.

While the July 2008 figure of 68.9 percent occupancy is only slightly ahead of last July's 67.5 percent occupancy rate, it's nearly 9 percent higher than July 2006, when occupancy was reported at just 59.6 percent.

At the same time occupancy rates are climbing, Island accommodation owners are apparently offering visitors discounted room rates to make Island vacations more attractive.

The CVB reported the average daily rate for an Anna Maria Island accommodation room during July was $141.04, down $4.13 from the July 2007 figure of $145.17.

Although the Island's occupancy rate climbed in July, mainland rental units continued an occupancy slump that began in 2005.

 Occupancy of mainland accommodation units dropped to 56.9 percent in July 2008, down 2.1 percent from the 59 percent occupancy level of 2007 and off 9.1 percent from July 2006, when the rate was reported at 66 percent. In July 2005, mainland occupancy was at 72.8 percent.

As occupancy of mainland units fell, the average daily rate for that category of visitor stay was climbing. The average mainland room rate jumped from $81.20 for July 2007 to $85.48 for the same month this year.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman has noted previously that the continued tourism increase is significant for Island accommodation owners.

And  Brockman expected August to also be a busy month for visitors.

After 2006 the Florida Department of Education moved the opening of public schools forward two weeks to allow Florida families a last chance for a beach vacation.

The result was impressive as the Island occupancy rate climbed 18.4 percent in August 2007 compared with the same month in 2006.

Florida hoteliers had long complained that August was the month that Florida families traditionally vacationed at state beaches and at attractions.

This year, Brockman has her fingers crossed as the FDE had public schools resume Aug. 18.