Tourism up 6.7 percent in 2011

Tourism to the Bradenton area increased 6.7 percent in 2011 compared with 2010, according to figures released Feb. 13 by Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau retains RDS to report monthly, quarterly and annual visitor information to the BACVB. The reports typically are provided six weeks to two months after a reporting period.

Walter Klages of RDS delivered the annual report at the Manatee County Tourist Development Council’s Feb. 13 meeting.

The report stated 492,300 visitors came to the area in 2011, a 6.7 percent climb from the 461,600 reported by RDS in 2010.

For December 2011, RDS reported 31,000 visitors for the month, up 10.6 percent from the 28,400 for December 2010.

The fourth quarter of 2011 also saw an increase in visitors to the area. RDS reported 102,300 visitors to the area in the fourth quarter, a 12.2 jump from the 91,200 reported in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The total economic impact of visitors for 2011 was also up from 2010. RDS said total economic spending impact for 2011 was $511.5 million, compared with $472 million for 2010.

Internet use for reservations also increased, with RDS reporting 58.9 percent of visitors booked online, a 14.1 increase from the 51.6 percent of visitors who booked online reservations in 2010.

The 6.7 percent increase of visitors nearly matched the hike in resort tax collections — the 5 percent collected on all county rentals of six months or less — which increased 7 percent for fiscal year 2010-11 compared with 2009-10 fiscal year. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

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