Hillsborough County hotel taxes rise 16.3 percent in February
March 10, 2015 by Kevin Wiatrowski
TAMPA (March 9, 2015) – Hillsborough County collected nearly $2.5 million in Tourist Development Taxes in February, an increase of 16.3 percent over the same period a year ago.
The taxes -- $2,486,504 – were reported in February based on January room nights.
The year-over-year growth in February’s report brings the total taxes so far in Fiscal Year 2015, which started Oct. 1, to $9.6 million. That’s about 15.5 percent ahead of the same period in Fiscal Year 2014. So far, Fiscal Year 2015 is running 8.7 percent above Fiscal Year 2007, the previous peak year for hotel tax collections in Hillsborough County.
“We’re excited to see this kind of growth in bed taxes,” said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “They reflect the growing interest -- both in this country and abroad -- in Tampa Bay as a destination for family vacations and conventions alike. We appreciate the help from our 700 industry partners to spread the word about all the undiscovered gems waiting to be found here in Tampa Bay.”
Smith Travel Research, which tracks the hotel industry in Hillsborough County, reported hotel occupancy for January averaged 72.9 percent, 5.3 percent higher than the same month in 2014. Total hotel revenues were up 15 percent for the same period.
Hotel occupancy for the month peaked at 92 percent on the weekend of Jan. 14-16, 2015. That’s when the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival converged with a large sales gathering at the Tampa Convention Center. Occupancy that weekend was 4.5 percent higher than the Black Heritage Festival weekend in 2014 (Jan. 17-19).
The weekend of this year’s Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, hotel occupancy reached 86 percent, about 2 percent higher than during 2014’s Gasparilla weekend (Jan 24-26).
Corrada set a goal at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015 of reaching $30 million in hotel taxes in three years -- by Dec. 31, 2017. Reaching that point would boost Hillsborough County into the list of Florida’s “high-impact tourism” counties, enabling the county commission to raise the bed tax by a penny. Eight counties -– Duval, Volusia, Orange, Osceola, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Pinellas -- now qualify as high-impact tourism counties.
So far, Hillsborough County bed-tax collections have been running ahead of the pace needed to make Corrada’s deadline.
“While our current numbers are encouraging, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal,” Corrada said. “The addition of new attractions, new events and new hotels rooms in the coming years will help greatly, but we all need to continue to work together to get there.”
About Visit Tampa Bay
Visit Tampa Bay encourages adventurous travelers to unlock its trove of unique treasures. It is a not-for-profit company with more than 700 partners who help promote Tampa Bay as the ideal destination for family vacations, sporting events, corporate meetings, festivals, and conventions.