Tourism Adds $6.6B to Hillsborough Economy in 2018

July 25, 2019 by PR@VisitTampaBay.com

Tourism Adds $6.6B to Hillsborough Economy in 2018

Marketing boosts lucrative international travel, generates $70+ ROI on spending

TAMPA (July 24, 2019) | Visitors pumped $6.6 billion into Hillsborough County’s financial bottom line in 2018 – including nearly $1 billion in federal, state, and local taxes alone, according to a report by industry analyst Tourism Economics.

The independent study is part of Visit Tampa Bay’s annual review of the economic impact of tourism on the local economy. In 2018, more than 23.5 million people visited Hillsborough County, up 3.1 percent from 2017.

Tourism currently supports more than 53,000 local jobs and saves every household in the county $811 in state and local taxes. Tourism jobs have grown steadily over the last decade and now rank a close second behind professional services as the fastest-growing job sector, according to the study.

As Hillsborough County’s destination marketing organization, Visit Tampa Bay promotes the county to visitors from across the U.S. and around the world under a $13 million contract – as much as a third or less of the budget of other large DMO’s in Florida.  Visit Tampa Bay leverages its revenue by working with Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, attractions such as Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, and hundreds of other partners large and small to promote Hillsborough County as a travel destination.

Major markets include the Northeast, Midwest, Texas in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, and South American countries including Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

“Working with our industry partners, our effort produced an impressive return on investment of nearly $70 in public revenue for every dollar spent,” said Santiago C. Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “Along with tens of thousands of jobs, that money supports roads, schools, parks and more – ultimately strengthening our community’s foundations.”

Other key take-aways from the report:

  • Since the 2009 recession, visits to Hillsborough County have grown 39 percent, visitor spending is up nearly 59 percent, and international visitors are up 45 percent.
  • International visitors stay longer and spend nearly 10 times more, on average, than U.S.-based travelers. As a result, although they make up about 2 percent of total visitors, they contribute more than 16 percent of tourist spending – a figure that rises to nearly 21 percent when airfare is factored in.
  • Food and beverage make up the largest single category of visitor spending – 28 percent of the total per-person spending. Recreation (24 percent) and lodging (21 percent) were second and third for visitor spending.

“When people travel these days, they want that regional taste, that local flavor,” said Richard Gonzmart, President of the Columbia Restaurant Group. “Visitors want to eat where the locals eat. We’re fortunate that all of our restaurants are popular with tourists and with residents. You’ll find locals sitting next to visitors from all over the country and the world, brought together by a love of good food.”

Tampa Bay’s booming food scene has become a key feature of economic success that reaches all corners of the destination, Corrada said.

“This report is a reminder of the vital role tourism plays in the day-to-day lives of residents and businesses in Hillsborough County,” Corrada said. “We enjoy an amazing variety of experiences here. By sharing them with visitors from across the country and around the world, we build on the prosperity of today’s residents and future generations.”