Make us your home page

Record-setting months result in record-setting year for Pinellas tourist tax revenue

More than ever, tourists were drawn to the tranquil beaches of Pinellas County in the fiscal year that ended in September.


More than ever, tourists were drawn to the tranquil beaches of Pinellas County in the fiscal year that ended in September.

CLEARWATER — Months of record bed-tax collections in Pinellas add up to a record-setting year for the county's tourist development tax.

Pinellas County collected $28.7 million in tourist tax revenue during fiscal year 2011, the county's Tourist Development Council announced at Wednesday's monthly meeting. The fiscal year started in October 2011 and ended in September 2012.

The tax is a 5 percent surcharge tacked onto the bill of every accommodation rented out for less than six months. This year's record is 9 percent more than the previous record: $26.4 million collected in 2008.

The record year ended on another record month: Pinellas collected $1.7 million in tourist tax in September 2012, which is 14 percent more than the same month last year. It's also the county's best September on record.

"If anyone would like to clap," said David Downing, deputy director of Pinellas' tourism agency, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, "I think this would be an appropriate time."

It surprised tourism officials that September, a traditionally slow month for visitors, set another record. No one expected business to remain so strong after the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa in August.

"(September) was the exclamation point at the end of the year," Downing said.

Tourism officials believe the success of Pinellas tourism is owed to the improvement in the economy. Domestic travelers have finally started to take vacations again, Downing said. That, and the continued strength of European visitors, have helped fuel record numbers for Pinellas tourism this past fiscal year.

A consultant also told the TDC that Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into New York at the end of October, has so far had no discernible effect on tourism from that area.

New York is one of the key domestic markets for Pinellas tourism, and the TDC specifically targets the area with an annual ad campaign.

"To date, we have seen virtually no impact at all," said Walter Klages of Research Data Services, who compiles visitor data for the TDC. "We have not found cancellations of any significance so far."

Klages warned that there were early signs of a softening of winter travel from New York, but said it was too early to know for sure.

In fact, in September, the New York area rose to become the No. 2 domestic market for Pinellas tourism after placing third last year. No. 1 is Tampa-St. Petersburg itself. The old No. 2 fell to No. 3: Orlando.

Why are two of Pinellas' top domestic markets both within Florida? Officials said that when bay area and Orlando residents want to hit the beaches for the weekend, they choose Pinellas' beaches.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (813) 226-3404.

Record-setting months result in record-setting year for Pinellas tourist tax revenue 11/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 9:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  2. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  3. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  4. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture


    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.

    In this April 23, 2016 photo, attendees take smartphone photos at a promotional event for Ford Motor Company ahead of the Auto China car show in Beijing. Ford Motor Co. announced an agreement Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 with a Chinese partner to look into forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China. [AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein]
  5. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]