Resort tax collections on record pace

With $612,529 collected in May and four months remaining in the fiscal year, Manatee County is ahead of last year’s record pace for resort tax collections.

The resort tax, commonly called the bed tax, is the 5 percent collected by Manatee County on accommodation rentals of six months or less.

Sue Sinquefield of the Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax division reported May bed taxes were $46,929 ahead of the $565,600 collected in May 2012, an 8.3 percent increase.

The year-to-date total resort tax collected is $6.4 million, $560,000 more than the $5.84 million collected during the first eight months of the 2011-12 fiscal year. Collections that year set a record of $8.1 million, eclipsing the previous record of $7.1 million set during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Collections this year are on pace to reach nearly $9 million, according to Sinquefield’s figures.

The increase in resort tax collections is a barometer for any tourism increase to Anna Maria Island. In 26 of the past 27 months, the percent of tourism increase to the Bradenton area has been about half the percentage increase in resort tax collections.

And this summer season appears anything but slow.

David Teitelbaum, owner of four resorts in Bradenton Beach and a member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, said reservations are “through the roof” for the remainder of July and the first three weeks of August.

Rebecca Barnett of Anna Maria Island Accommodations in Anna Maria added, “We don’t have anything left for July except a few odds and ends, and August is filling up rapidly. I would say if someone is planning an August vacation to the island, they better make a reservation now, before it’s too late.”

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman agreed. “We’ve been flooded with walk-ins looking for rooms and attractions. We keep an inventory of available rooms among our members, but it’s been decreasing a lot. We’ve still got a few openings, but every indication seems to say the rest of the summer will see a full island,” she said.

Reservations taper off at the end of August, as local public schools reopen Aug. 19.

The summer tourist season on Anna Maria Island is traditionally when Florida families go to the beaches for a week or two, Brockman said.

“So far, no one has been complaining they don’t have any business,” she added.

The resort tax is used to fund the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau budget, the Bradenton Convention Center, the Powel Crosley Estate, McKechnie Field and other public venues and attractions around Manatee County, as well as beach renourishment projects.